Five members of the Avon Vale Hunt, including a Wiltshire councillor, have appeared in court charged with breaching the Hunting Act 2004.

Joshua Charlesworth, 18, of East Tytherton; Benjamin Pethers, 28, of Hoopers Pool, Southwick; Stuart Radbourne, 28, of The Common, Bromham; Paul Tylee-Hinder, 58, of Quem-erford, Calne; and Jonathon Seed, 54, of Chittoe Heath, Bromham, all denied the breach when they appeared before magistrates in Chippenham on Tuesday.

Four of them also denied an additional charge of interfering with a badger sett, although Radbourne, who is one of the joint hunt masters, indicated a guilty plea to that charge.

The case has been brought by the RSPCA and refers to incidents alleged to have taken place on March 6 this year at Stockley Hollow, near Calne.

The magistrates were told the case was not ready to proceed, so it was adjourned until November 9, when a trial date is due to be set.

The five men all appeared on summons, so the question of bail did not arise.

Seed, the Wiltshire councillor for Summerham and Seend and a former hunt master, said he intended to fight the allegation.

In a statement released to the Wiltshire Times, he said: “This is a private prosecution by the RSPCA and I believe that it has been commenced for political reasons, as their stance against hunting is well known and it is of great significance that Wiltshire Police, after advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, declined to take this case forward.

“These proceedings are an abuse of the private prosecution system, which needs to be addressed in due course.

“I totally deny the allegations of any offence against the Hunting Act and there is simply no evidence of either myself or any of the other defendants or anyone else being involved in any illegal hunting on the day in question.”