After more than a year of criticism, the RSPCA has hired a senior lawyer to carry out a review into its controversial prosecutions policy.

Former chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service Stephen Wooller will spend 4 months looking into how prosecutions are taken forward by the charity.

In December 2012, the RSPCA was heavily criticised by a judge for its £326,000 prosecution of the Heythrop.

Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, said: “The RSPCA is addressing the wrong question: it should be asking itself why it prosecutes, not how it prosecutes. No other charity regularly brings private prosecutions.

“We are dubious whether that can be achieved through an internal review.”

The results of the review — which will cost between £30,000 and £50,000 of donors’ money — are expected to be announced midway through next year.

This story was originally published in 28 December 2013 issue of Horse & Hound.