A FRIEND of Tory leader David Cameron, who is being prosecuted for hunting foxes since the ban was imposed, is to appear at Cheltenham Magistrates Court next month.

The case of Julian Barnfield, 44, of the Cotswolds-based Heythrop Hunt, was listed before the court today but was adjourned administratively in his absence.

The bench heard that further work was needed on the case before it could proceed further.

The case was adjourned until August 4, again at Cheltenham Magistrates court, so that DVD evidence can be served on the defence.

It is the first time a huntsman from a West Country hunt has been prosecuted and only the second time in Britain that such a case has been brought. The first was a case in north Wales was the first.

Mr Barnfield, of Heythrop Kennels, Chipping Norton, faces three charges of breaking the ban on hunting for foxes with dogs.

The Heythrop is the local hunt to Tory leader David Cameron's Witney constituency, and he has ridden with them at least half a dozen times.

Mr Cameron has long spoken of his opposition to the Hunting Act and pledged a free vote on its abolition if the Conservatives win the next election.

The charges against Mr Barnfield relate to three separate incidents, all allegedly caught on camera by anti-hunt monitors, when the Heythrop hunted in Gloucestershire during the past six months.

The first relates to the alleged killing of a fox in November last year, with two similar allegations from January and February.