TWO undercover animal welfare activists covertly filmed an alleged hare coursing event taking place on land owned by three-time champion jumps trainer Peter Easterby, a court heard.

The former trainer, charged under his birth name of Miles Henry Easterby, is accused of permitting land to be used for hare coursing and attending a hare coursing event in March, 2007.

Easterby went on trial at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court alongside Major John Shaw, who is charged with the same offences.

The court was told how animal welfare activists Michelle Bryan and Joe Hashman attended the alleged hare coursing events held over two days in North Yorkshire posing as a couple.

Mr Hashman secretly filmed the activities with a camera attached to a set of binoculars.

The court was shown footage of the alleged hare coursing taking place on farmland owned by Easterby, 79, and Shaw, 56, near Malton.

Mr Hashman told the court he did not take notes while witnessing the events as he feared it would raise suspicions.

He told the court it was not the sort of place to be “found out as an anti”.

He claimed over the two days there were possibly more than 40 occasions of hare coursing taking place.

Hare coursing was outlawed by the Hunting Act, which came into force in 2005, but many former participants now take part in a permissible sport known as Greyhound Field Trials, which is run under strict rules.

Mr Hashman said the people organising the event in North Yorkshire had made “cosmetic changes” to the way the event was being held.

He described how he and Miss Bryan were given a map from a local pub which gave them directions to the alleged hare coursing.

He said they were charged £5 each to attend and were given a programme, which the court was told gave the “runners and riders”.

He described how a man known as a “Slipper” would be positioned in a canvas structure located in a field and was known as a “Shy”.

Beaters would then drive the hares towards the Shy, where the Slipper would unleash two greyhounds who then chased the animals.

People attending the event would line the field and create an “arena” for the dogs to chase the hares.

Three judges would then decide which dog had performed the best once the course was complete using a combination of red and white flags and matching coloured collars on the dogs.

The court was told before the Hunting Act came into force hare coursing was adjudged by a man sat on a horse who would closely follow the action and who would raise a coloured handkerchief to indicate which dog had won.

Mr Hashman described the situation he saw.

He told the court: “They were funnelling the hares into the field. Guiding the hares, trying to control them one at a time.... so they could set the dogs on them.”

Easterby, of Habton Grange Farm, Great Habton, and Shaw of Welburn Manor Farm, Welburn, deny the charges.

The case continues.

* Celebrity chef, Clarissa Dickson-Wright is due to appear in court on September on charges of attending the hare coursing events, to which she has already pleaded not guilty.