The RSPCA appears to be showing no signs of changing its prosecution policy after it emerged that it is mounting a fresh case against the Cattistock.
William Bryer (pictured), who is joint-master and huntsman of the Cattistock, is accused of one offence of breaching the 2004 Hunting Act on 11 March this year and is to appear at Weymouth Magistrates Court later this month (27 October).
This is the first prosecution since an independent review into the RSPCA’s policy suggested that the charity needed to consider the significant costs of mounting such prosecutions.
The report, carried out by former chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Stephen Wooler, made 33 recommendations on the charity’s investigation and prosecution activity.
“It is quite extraordinary that just days after the RSPCA’s own independent review accepted that there were serious difficulties with the society bringing private prosecutions against hunts it should launch proceedings against another pack,” said the CA’s Tim Bonner.
“We are confident that the case will fail, as do 80% of prosecutions launched by the RSPCA against hunts.”
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has also launched a private prosecution against the Lamerton Hunt, which operates on the Devon and Cornwall border.
LACS alleges that the hunt broke the 2004 Hunting Act in an incident near Lydford in Devon on 26 March.
Six members of the hunt have been asked to appear before magistrates in Plymouth next month (21 November).
A statement from the League said it had been left with “no option” but to prosecute after Devon and Cornwall Police “failed to deal” with the evidence supplied by the charity.
“The League has obtained written independent legal advice that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that it would be in the public interest to prosecute,” it added.
However, Mr Bonner argues that the prosecution is an “ongoing campaign of harassment against the hunting community”.
“We don’t believe there is any evidence to justify a prosecution, let alone a conviction,” he told H&H.
“There is also a wider question of the abuse of ‘charitable funds’. How on earth can a charity justify wasting donations on such a pointless vendetta?”
This news stroy was first published in H&H magazine (16 October 2014).