MPs are to debate the role of the RSPCA as prosecutor, in the wake of the charity’s controversial court case against the Heythrop.

The debate was requested by Simon Hart MP.

Mr Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, is among those to have heavily criticised the RSPCA for spending £326,000 on prosecuting the Heythrop.

He told H&H that the purpose of the debate, the first of its kind, “was to question whether a charity that acts as a prosecutor, and which claims to comply with the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidance on prosecutions, is conflicted by the fact that it also has a political and commercial interest in the cases that it takes.”

The debate will be held next Tuesday (29 January) in Westminster Hall.

Mr Hart told H&H that he also wanted to highlight that the charity’s good work “on the ground” was compromised by “an increasingly animal rights-based agenda being pursued by the RSPCA leadership”.

The Heythrop was fined at Oxford Magistrates Court on 17 December 2012 after admitting unlawful hunting.

Former huntsman Julian Barnfield and former senior master Richard Sumner also pleaded guilty.

But District Judge Tim Pattinson said the £326,000 the RSPCA spent on the case was a “staggering” figure.

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