Login Register
 °

RSPCA accused of wasting money in court

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 03, 2014

By Jeff Wells

  • Members of the Beaufort Hunt during the New Year's Day hunt at Horton, Gloucestershire, which does not flout the Hunting Act, however the RSPCA has been criticised for trying to prosecute hunts alleged to have done so, but are then found to be not guilty

  • Tim Bonner says the private prosecutions law must be looked at

Comments (128)

wdnews@b-nm.co.uk

The RSPCA and the Countryside Alliance clashed bitterly yesterday over the animal welfare charity's policy of pursuing prosecutions for illegal hunting.

An investigation by The Times reportedly found only four out of five RSPCA prosecutions for alleged illegal hunting were successful. As a result taxpayers had to foot legal bills for those that failed totalling at least £70,000, because defence costs in private prosecutions can be claimed against the public purse.

The findings led to the alliance, which is fighting to overturn the hunt ban, to allege that the RSPCA was guilty of an abuse of the courts for mounting politically motivated legal cases.

Related content

Tim Bonner, the alliance's director of campaigns said: "The Government needs to look urgently at the law to ensure private prosecutors think twice before bringing spurious prosecutions."

Specialist country sports lawyer Jamie Foster of Taunton-based Clarke Willmot represented one of the few defendants who pleaded guilty to illegal hunting. Huntsman David Parker, of the Seavington, in Somerset, admitted blowing his hunting horn, encouraging the hounds to pursue a fox, which escaped.

He was fined £500 with £500 costs despite the RSPCA requesting their full costs of close to £5,000 at the end of the case last September.

Mr Foster said it would have been more appropriate for the RSPCA to issue a caution, given no animal was harmed. "This was another example of a campaigning charity prioritising its own political interests in criminal proceedings," he said.

Perhaps the most high profile failed RSPCA hunting case involved the Avon Vale hunt in Wiltshire, where leading Conservative councillor and former hunt-master Jonathon Seed was brought to court for trial, only to be told the society was dropping the charges at the last minute.

The RSPCA hit back yesterday with a strongly worded denial that it was acting in any way improperly in taking hunts to court. Ray Goodfellow, the charity's chief legal officer, said: "The figures cited by the Countryside Alliance are disingenuous. It is a gross distortion to compare a percentage calculated on the number of summonses with a percentage calculated on the number of individual defendants successfully convicted.

"Obviously I reject the claim that our prosecutions are politically motivated. The RSPCA follows the principles laid down by the CPS Code for Crown Prosecutors. The alliance should engage with the independent review of RSPCA prosecutions if they have concerns about the manner in which the RSPCA brings private prosecutions."

Last year, in response to concerns, the Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve, wrote to the RSPCA suggesting it appoint a barrister to conduct a review of its policies. Stephen Wooler, a former chief inspector of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, was appointed to carry out the review.

Read more from Western Daily Press

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters

128 comments

  • Charlespk  |  January 31 2014, 8:35AM

    When you actually know anything about the M.tuberculosis genus and the BCG vaccine people may listen to people like you. . Repeatedly known people and politicians of all colours display their shameful ignorance. And ARAs and badgerists like yourself just continually quote the discredited rubbish from the ISG. The findings of people like Bourne and Krebs were discredited by the serious 'world' scientists who are really tackling the problem of TB long ago. If you poll a million people about a subject they know nothing whatsoever about, you will always get a million ignorant responses, as is evidenced every time on these pages. Badgers and bovine TB. This is the REAL unvarnished science. The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts. http://tinyurl.com/bw7jpxy (open in a new window)

    |   4
  • Ludmilla  |  January 31 2014, 12:35AM

    We know a lot more than the hunters who persecute raptors wild mammals and the AR to work for or run shooting estates, poisoning and destroying , contaminating nature with death and lead. Nothing sick about us we aren't the torturers or slanderers - imagine employing someone like that Just ignore scientists and wildlife experts on the badger cull listen to game chefs and telly gardeners, sure they know how to treat animals

    |   -13
  • Charlespk  |  January 30 2014, 7:20PM

    You are sick you ARA people.

    |   11
  • Charlespk  |  January 30 2014, 7:18PM

    You stared this again. . You know nothing about animals. . . Go away.

    |   11
  • Ludmilla  |  January 30 2014, 6:33PM

    I think you are the one gasping on the venom of anti RSPCA propaganda, what say you to people who would kill their animals if an anti hunt bill went through? This is how the so all knowing about animals ot get on, how proud the country sports lobby must be of them http://tinyurl.com/pys5lj9 And how about all the footage of pet cats being taken by hunts not controlling their animals, and what happens to ones hat don't take to hunting?

    |   -13
  • Charlespk  |  January 30 2014, 6:19PM

    You are gasping for breath. The RSPCA are mow a disgraced Charity employing bigots who know very little about real animal welfare or looking after animals. . The RSPCA is now run by nasty people.

    |   11
  • Ludmilla  |  January 30 2014, 6:05PM

    Are you seriously saying that RSPCA are getting something like the vice squad in on mange when they can't get a conviction on ripping foxes apart -. What about the number of sabs assaulted when the badger cull landowners were using the police force as their own private force almost like the start of the police before they became democratic? The police have been criticised for not taking wildlife crimes seriously and at most opportunities the CA try to stop evidence and RSPCA prosecutions, even Otis Ferry after numerous accusations ends up waking free thinking he is a 'political prisoner' for storming Westminster and the arrogance of rest of siblings http://tinyurl.com/opbwlj8 I have seen people commenting on how they dug out foxes and badgers, no action taken and propaganda that its country against town is untrue http://tinyurl.com/oc2e987 Just get through loopholes for illegal acts http://tinyurl.com/pzgvz5r and workers commit wildlife crime http://tinyurl.com/ov8gs3u Also how about Judge who criticised them being 'slapped down' http://tinyurl.com/okvwea9 by authorities

    |   -13
  • Charlespk  |  January 30 2014, 4:32PM

    RSPCA and Police criticised by Judge. A Cornish judge has ruled that a police officer acted unlawfully when he tried to force his way into a Long Rock family's home and pulled a Taser on them. The policeman went to Stephen Curnow's home after being asked to help an RSPCA inspector who had been told to leave the property. The policeman had no warrant when he arrived at the house on September 6 last year, and although he later claimed that Mr Curnow, had acted in an aggressive way, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, ruled that he was in no doubt the officer had overstepped the mark and inflamed the situation. Mr Curnow, who runs a pheasant shoot near Crowlas, had his shotgun and firearms licenses revoked after the incident. It all started when RSPCA inspector Michael Reid visited Mr Curnow's home and asked to inspect his dogs after the charity received an anonymous tip-off that one was suffering from mange. This was later found not to be the case. Mr Reid was refused entry but in the judge's words, "he would not take no for an answer". The judge said: "It was a case of the RSPCA inspector going too far in trying to persuade the officer to force an entry for him." "The police had no authority to enter the appellant's home," he said. "The police officer was acting in excess of his lawful authority, trespassing without a warrant." After the hearing, Mr Curnow said: "I always urge everybody to fight the system, not to be afraid of it. It is there to protect us as well as punish us. . A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said requesting police attendance was usual procedure if access was refused. But they have no right to access!!!! Some very nasty people in the RSPCA. http://tinyurl.com/mlo9beb (Dogs killed. open in window)

    |   12
  • Ludmilla  |  January 30 2014, 3:53PM

    That's the same comment you made before, but nice that you got the gang of four to vote me down, are you in de Nile floating down the river in your barge thinking you are Cleopatra, and slashing, snaring, poisoning foxes is worth fighting for like Egypt?

    |   -11
  • Charlespk  |  January 30 2014, 9:13AM

    You've still got yours eyed closed then Vicky Cole!! http://tinyurl.com/mlo9beb (Dogs killed. open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/lmoowmv (Still in denial then)

    |   11

      YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

       
       
       

      MORE NEWS HEADLINES