For the first time in years the RSPCA has no ongoing prosecutions of hunts in the United Kingdom.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which depends on donations and bequests from the public for its funding, is the second biggest bringer of prosecutions in the country. It follows only the Crown Prosecution Service, despite being a charity rather than an arm of government. The charity has been repeatedly criticized for what is perceived as an overtly political approach to its campaigns and its aggressive pursuit of hunts.
The final case was against Will Bryer, master and huntsman of the Cattistock hunt in Dorset, who stood accused of hunting a fox with dogs, an offence created by the last Labour government’s Hunting Act of 2004.
The RSPCA has written to Mr Bryer’s solicitor Jamie Foster, of Foster Griffin, stating it will not be pursuing the prosecution as there is no evidence on which they could legitimately continue.
Mr Bryer said: “In the 10 years since the Hunting Act came into force no one involved with the Cattistock hunt has been convicted of breaking the law. I am very pleased that the RSPCA has finally seen sense and dropped the case against me, but there was never any justification for it in the first place”.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, added: “This was the only outstanding prosecution of a hunt by the RSPCA and we hope it will be the last time the charity involves itself in such a case.
“There is a clear conflict of interest in a political campaigning organisation bringing prosecutions of this sort and the RSPCA should take the advice of its own Independent Reviewer and leave such allegations to be independently considered by the police and Crown Prosecution Service”.
After a series of revelations about the culture at the headquarters of the RSPCA, which included dogmatic campaigns against horse racing, fox hunting, land management, and eating meat, donations and bequests in wills dramatically fell, leading to a change in direction for the charity. In 2014 it was reported they had lost £7 million in donations as animal lovers turned away from the charity.
Breitbart London reported last year on the extraordinary case of leaked minutes from an RSPCA policy meeting, in which the motion “[the] new radical impetus [of the RSPCA] must not be allowed to falter in the face of forces inimical to change within and outside the society” was passed by 59 votes to 4.
Since the drop in donations, the charity has declared an intention to return to its original mission of animal rescue.