A judge has questioned the “staggering” amount of money spent by the RSPCA on prosecuting the Heythrop.

The Heythrop was fined yesterday (17 December) at Oxford Magistrates Court after admitting unlawful hunting.

Former huntsman Julian Barnfield and former senior master Richard Sumner also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

District Judge Tim Pattinson fined the hunt £4,000, Sumner £1,800 and Barnfield £1,000. He ordered the hunt to pay £15,000 towards the legal costs incurred by the RSPCA, which brought the case.

But the judge questioned whether the £326,000 the RSPCA spent on the case was a sensible use of the charity’s funds.

He said the sum was a “staggering figure”.

He continued: “Members of the public may feel that RSPCA funds can be more usefully employed.

“It is not for me to express an opinion but I merely flag it up, but I do find it to be a quite staggering figure.”

The court heard that the hunt was filmed in the Cotswolds during November 2011 and February and March this year by members of the Protect Our Wild Animals group.