The first professional huntsman in the country facing prosecution for allegedly hunting a fox is "elated" after his case was dropped.

Julian Barnfield, 45, of the Heythrop Hunt, which rides out in west Oxfordshire and nearby parts of Gloucestershire, faced four charges of hunting a fox between November 2007 and February last year.

The case against him was understood to be largely based on filmed evidence gathered by anti-hunt groups in Gloucestershire.

But it was reviewed following a High Court ruling in February which said that "searching" for a mammal was not hunting, and that hunting could only be an "intentional" activity.

Following this, the CPS determined that there was not sufficient evidence in Mr Barnfield's case to ensure a realistic prospect of conviction.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided last week not to appeal against the High Court judgment and Mr Barnfield was told on Tuesday the case against him is to be discontinued.

The huntsman, whose lives at the kennels in Chipping Norton, said he felt "extremely relieved" that charges had been dropped.

Mr Barnfield, who said he had only been trail hunting - an activity designed to replicate a traditional hunt without chasing a fox - added: "It was quite a daunting prospect, to think that I was going to be on trial.

"But there was no evidence to prove that I was hunting illegally."

The allegations brought under the Hunting Act 2004 related to November 17, 2007, at Cold Aston, January 23 last year at Adlestrop, and February 7, also last year, at Barrington, all in Gloucestershire.