The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has been rapped by the Charity Commission for a second time over adverts to be aired in the run-up to the general election.

The banned advert highlighted letters in the slogan Keep Cruelty History so it read Cruel Tory, which was deemed too political by the Commission.

LACS had already been warned about being party political by the charity watchdog in August 2009.

Now a spokesman for the Commission told H&H it would be using LACS as a case study of how not to behave as an example to other charities.

She said: “We have been engaging with the charity with regards to their campaigning — charities can campaign, but cannot be party political.”

Countryside Alliance spokesman Tim Bonner said: “LACS cannot have it both ways. By moving its entire operation into charitable status it has attracted significant tax benefits, but it must then abide by the rules.

“There are real questions about how such an overtly political organisation can be a charity, but we are glad to see the Commission is keeping a close eye on LACS’s activities.”

LACS spokesman Louise Robertson told H&H: “The advert was checked and the Commission felt highlighting the text was too political.”

Ms Robertson added that the advert had “not been banned”, but had to be redesigned before it could be used.

The campaign follows pledges from Tory leader David Cameron that if elected his government would allow a free vote on the issue of hunting with dogs.

Shadow Secretary of State Nick Herbert MP called the Hunting Act “an affront to civil liberties”, saying a Conservative government would consider introducing a regulatory body for hunting in order to minimise animal suffering.

PR company Bright Young Things has been hired by LACS to run its campaign supporting the Hunting Act.

The company claims it will recruit “major celebrities” to campaign and will be using “cutting edge” viral videos to target younger audiences.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 February, ’10)