An open letter to EFRA, Mr David Cameron, Simon Hart MP and Mr Neil Parish MP
A great many of us are seriously concerned that the EFRA [Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] committee is using its position in government to curtail or remove the right of the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty cases, and that the motive for this move is more about preventing fox hunting prosecutions than any real concern for animal welfare.
It will be impossible to prosecute if the Charity is not allowed to investigate, and it will be difficult to investigate if the Charity then has to rely on the CPS to bring up the thousands of cases in Court. It should also be remembered that it is the right of every private citizen to seek justice through the UK Courts.
Of course there will be times when the RSPCA gets it wrong, but in the thousands of abuse cases which reach Court, there is only a handful which have been stopped and deemed not to be in the public interest. I would point out that for every case which does go to court, there are hundreds more that don’t. The problems are sorted out with RSPCA support and education and the cooperation of the animal’s owner. Sometimes the animal’s owner is reluctant or refuses to improve or take advice and that is when the RSPCA must step in for the sake of the animal.
The Charity spends around 5p in the £1 on prosecutions and the rest of the money is spent on animal housing, veterinary treatment, education and of course paying inspectors salaries. The RSPCA also saves the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds every year which it is doubtful could be matched by the CPS, especially in these times of austerity and swinging cuts to services.
The pro hunting press, ably abetted by the Countryside Alliance, are also guilty of a steady build-up of accusations of RSPCA misuse of power. The Telegraph and the Daily Mail are particularly aggressive in accusing the RSPCA of radical campaigning, promiscuous legal actions and the underhand use of funds. Yet this is at odds with ALL of the RSPCA reviews which have found the RSPCA to be acting within its remit, which is to prevent animal abuse. The Charity Commission has said on at least two occasions that the RSPCA has no case to answer.
The Heythrop prosecution is often cited by Mr Hart as a scandalous waste of money, which he claims was undertaken for political motives to embarrass the Prime Minister who has associations with the hunt. But it has never been political to uphold the law, nor is it political to prosecute cruelty. Perhaps if the Heythrop themselves had been more mindful of Mr Cameron’s reputation by association, they would have not broken the law in the first place. (Oddly the Charity’s prosecution of cruelty to horses in 2008 on Spindles Farm cost over £2,000,000, and the RSPCA was praised for their dedication and compassion.)
It is of especial concern that animals will not get the protection they need after reading Lord Ashcroft’s expose of David Cameron, who he claims, when in opposition, used his influence and asked the CPS to drop a hunting case against a member of the Heythrop hunt, and if that allegation turns out to be true, not only was Mr Cameron’s action undemocratic, but it could also be viewed as an attempt to pervert the course of justice. The CPS dropped the case against the hunter, which in the light of recent news reports of Mr Cameron's personal intervention does not give people confident in the CPS or the law.
The RSPCA is as respected and it is respectable, it is also unique. Britain has a reputation of being a nation of animal lovers and the majority who care do not want to see the RSPCA rendered useless because another backdoor attempt is being made to prevent hunt prosecutions.
If the EFRA committee rule that the RSPCA can no longer investigate and prosecute animal abuse, then perhaps EFRA would tell us what it intends to put in place of the Charity, and where the money will be found to carry out the investigations and to fund the court costs so that no animal is left to suffer.
Sources and resources;
Western Daily press
“On Saturday the 28th February 2015 West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs attended a meet of the Atherstone Fox hunt at Sibson, Leicestershire. They were there to gather evidence of illegal hunting and to intervene if necessary to save hunted foxes.
From the start of the day it was clear that the Atherstone were illegally hunting as they repeatedly put their hounds through areas likely to contain foxes with no evidence that a trail had been laid.
The attached video shows a fox being closely pursued by the Atherstone hounds. The huntsman and whipper in are present at the time and neither do anything to stop the illegal hunting. Their only concern is to impede and assault the saboteurs who are filming their law breaking.
The huntsman in the red coat can be seen using his horse to ride at a sab and pin him against a wall. The video also shows the saboteurs being assaulted by hunt supporters who try and steal their cameras. One female saboteur received nasty cuts to her face after a hunt supporter dug her nails into her face.
We can confirm that the CPS have decided not to prosecute the huntsman for illegal hunting, despite the video showing the fox running across the path of the hunters, closely followed by two fox hounds. No attempts were made by any of the hunt staff present to stop the hounds. In fact the first thing the Huntsman did after seeing the fox, was to ride his horse violently into the nearest person, pinning them up against the wall.”
The police have separately charged the woman in the footage for two accounts of assault, yet oddly it seems the huntsman will face no charge for his actions.
Kelly Watson, spokesperson for West Midland Hunt saboteurs, stated:
“Although this video clearly shows illegal hunting and assault we are shocked that no charges have been brought against the huntsman. The hounds were clearly out of control and yet no charges have been made. Despite clear evidence of hunting and assaults, no-one faces any charges, yet when members of the Atherstone Hunt make allegations with no evidence the police are happy to act and issue Police Information Notices to the two saboteurs in this footage.”
There is a petition circulating asking the CPS to reconsider charging the Huntsman with common assault contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. There is also clear evidence of the illegal hunting of a fox and no attempts made by any members of the hunt or their stewards to call off the hounds. This is contrary to the legislation set out in the Hunting Act of 2004.
September 25, Facebook
Saboteurs say once again they caught the Atherstone hunt chasing another fox. A spokesperson for the saboteurs had this to say,
“Thanks to a tip off we found the Atherstone Hunt at High Cross. A small group attended this meet and this is what happened......the driver found herself in the right spot at the right time. She could see hounds in full cry charging up a field close to the A5. Knowing this meet well from main season she drove up to the lane (ironically the same lane where a sab was wrongfully arrested for causing chaos and mayhem last hunting season) to find the hunt causing real chaos and mayhem. As she approached she could hear hounds in cry and suddenly a fox appeared. He turned quickly in front of the hounds back into the hedge. One of the hunt supporters was very close to the fox but he did nothing to turn the hounds way. He just stood there watching as if the horror of the situation was entirely normal. The fox then jinked back out of the hedge and ran straight across the road closely followed by two lead hounds.
The driver leaped out of the car and at this point the whipper in knew what was happening and when she realised a camera was pointing straight at the road, she panicked. If the driver hadn’t been there it would have been business as usual for the hunt and their dogs would have carried on chasing and killing the fox.”
How many hours of footage will it take?
How many witness statements?
How many saboteurs have to be injured before the police do what they are supposed to do and uphold the law?
What are the police doing exactly, apart from harassing the saboteurs?
It seems like they are acting as private bodyguards for lawbreakers and the CPS, when presented with irrefutable evidence, decide there is no case to answer.
Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting