TWO members of a leading Borders hunt have gone on trial accused of breaching Scotland’s fox hunting legislation.

Forty-one-year-old Timothy Allen and Shaun Anderson, who is 28, of the Buccleuch Hunt have been charged with deliberately hunting a fox with a pack of dogs.

The offence is alleged to have been committed on land surrounding Whitton Farm near Morebattle, on December 20.

The trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court is another major test of the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002.

Allen and Anderson, from Melrose, confirmed they were adhering to their not guilty pleas.

Giving evidence Robbie Marsland, 61, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland said he felt the legislation needed to be strengthened in Scotland.

As a result he had hired a team of field workers who would covertly film the 10 regular hunts in Scotland "to check their patterns of behaviour".

Mr Marsland said he suspected loopholes in the legislation were being exploited to allow traditionalist fox hunting to take place and that they wanted to gather as much evidence as possible to convince the Scottish Government to strengthen the legislation.

He added that his investigators had attended around 20 hunts during the season which runs from October to February and on eight occasions

they had reported incidents to the police.

Farmer Thomas Edgar, 49, who runs Whitton Farm, confirmed he had been contacted by Allen from the Buccleuch Hunt about coming onto

his land for the purposes of fox control.

Asked how many lambs he lost a year to foxes he replied: "It won't be less than 100 a year. Sometimes it is more than that. They are pretty persistent.

"There are financial implications and it is pretty devastating for the sheep."

Three days have been set aside for the trial which will probably be part heard as two witnesses due to give evidence are unavailable.

It is understood film evidence will be led which has been submitted by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports.

It will be the latest challenge to the Protection of Wild Mammals Act 2002 which was recently subject to a review by Lord Bonomy

who made a number of recommendations for changes.

The main purpose of the Act is to ban the deployment of dogs to chase and kill wild mammals.

However it also provides a number of exceptions which allow the limited use of dogs for certain situations and the fox to be dispatched by a gun.

The latest trial, which is being heard by Sheriff Peter Paterson, continues.