Saturday, 17 August 2013



Below are extracts from FOI's submitted to all English and Welsh Police Forces, they all share RESTRICTED information with the RSPCA, many Forces even let the RSPCA Employee have direct access!

The RSPCA has a local information sharing agreement with Norfolk Constabulary. The RSPCA undertakes prosecutions in relation to persons who have committed offences involving animals. Within Norfolk these prosecution details are updated onto the Police National Computer (PNC) by Norfolk Constabulary and PNC information is provided in support of these. In addition to this, the Constabulary will undertake vehicle checks in support of an ongoing investigation.

As detailed in our previous response there are 9 members of the RSPCA who are authorised to undertake these enquiries with Norfolk Constabulary.
There is no central recording of these PNC checks but it is possible to carry out transaction
enquiries on the PNC database using relevant search criteria. There are 9 members of the RSPCA who are authorised to undertake these enquiries with Norfolk Constabulary.

How many Employees of the RSPCA, or individuals working on behalf of the RSPCA are authorised by your Police Force to make PNC, STORM or other information/data enquiries on all or any systems you operate.
Two RSPCA officers have been given the facility to request PNC vehicle registration keeper details in relation to urgent request for information.
Please specify if these individuals have direct or indirect access to such information and systems.

 This is indirect access. The RSPCA Officer contacts Devon & Cornwall Police and provides detailed security responses to questions to enable a request for information from the Police National Computer. 
Any request the RSPCA make to the Police are covered by the Data Protection Act Section 29(3) and risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

The RSPCA have an agreement with the ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) in order to request conviction histories from the PNC when the RSPCA have impending prosecutions against an individual. The RSPCA do not have direct access to the PNC systems, and these requests are all processed centrally by ACRO staff in Hampshire.
Within Lancashire, one RSPCA employee has been authorised to request additional information from the PNC via the force’s PNC Bureau. This is usually vehicle data, and must be in respect of an investigation which the RSPCA have the power to conduct. Again, this individual does not have any direct access to the PNC.
Lancashire Constabulary does not currently have a formal Information Sharing Agreement in place with the RSPCA, although work is understood to be underway to create a nationally standardised agreement for all police forces. At present, the RSPCA and its employees can submit requests for the disclosure of relevant information held on the force’s local information systems, providing it can be evidenced that these checks are required in order to investigate a suspected criminal offence, and subject to the assessment of the requested information by the force.

Should the RSPCA require Kent Police to share specific information with them in order to support a ‘policing purpose’, defined as, “protecting life and property, preserving order, preventing the commission of offences, bringing offenders to justice and any duty or responsibility of the police arising from common or statute law” then there is policy and legislation which supports this.
Information relating to this can be found within Kent Police Policy D14, Appendix B which is
available to view at:

The RSPCA may approach the Police for assistance, for example in obtaining a warrant to enter property, etc but they do not have access to any systems.

The RSPCA often have local agreements with Police Forces where they can
ask for checks (mainly PNC) to be done
and if this is the case there would
also be an agreement in place such as a Memorandum of Understanding or
Information Sharing Protocol and it would be a designated Police SPOC to
RSPCA SPOC via the Data Protection Act (DPA) sec 29(3). Any official
request the RSPCA make to the Police would be covered by DPA Sec 29(3) and
risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

No RSPCA staff have access to Police systems. 
However, the Control Room staff  have a file that contains 7 names  and specific details of staff from the RSPCA who can, if they provide all the details relative to their names which we hold on file, and a specific password for their name, we will then conduct certain PNC checks on their behalf.
PNC (Police National Computer) is the only system they are allowed access to under this system of identification.

I have been advised that the RSPCA often have local
agreements with Police Forces where they can ask for checks (mainly PNC)
to be done and if this is the case there would be an agreement in place
such as a Memorandum of Understanding or Information Sharing Protocol and
it would be a designated Police SPOC to RSPCA SPOC via the DPA sec 29(3).
Any official request the RSPCA make to the Police would be covered by DPA
Sec 29(3) and risk assessed by the Police before any response is made.

On a case by case base, where lawful authority is demonstrated, R.S.P.C.A. staff may seek access to relevant information on police systems, e.g. under the provisions of section 29(3), Data Protection Act, 1998. Each application would be individually considered.

Your Police Force not listed? You can find a full list of replies to FOI's regarding Police CRB, PNC information etc being shared with the RSPCA here;


The Archbishop of Canterbury has abandoned decades of Church leadership of the RSPCA by rejecting a traditional post at the top of the charity.
The decision by Justin Welby to turn down the role of vice-patron will rock an organisation facing accusations that it has lost its way. A series of court cases has led to claims that it has become too aggressive and politicised in pursuing farmers and vulnerable pet-owners.


For almost 200 years, the RSPCA has been the nation's conscience on animal welfare. But more recently questions are being asked about how the organisation is changing.
There are claims that it is too quick to prosecute vulnerable people - the elderly, people with mental health issues or mobility problems - rather than advising them or helping them better look after their pets. Some never get over the shock of being raided by the police and RSPCA - even if they're later completely cleared of any wrongdoing. They suspect that front page coverage of RSPCA raids may be at least partly motivated by a desire for donation-boosting publicity.
And vets and lawyers claim to have been unfairly targeted because they've stood up against the RSPCA in court.
Face the Facts investigates how the RSPCA is changing and whether it is in danger of losing its way.



A JUDGE who previously worked extensively for the RSPCA has forced the closure of a sanctuary for sick and injured horses that has been used by the police.
The owner, Susan Henderson, is appealing against the judgment after she was banned from working with animals for 10 years, given an eight-week suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay the charity £7,000 costs.
Her solicitor described the sentence as “savage” and criticised the judge (Andrew Meachin) for not declaring that he had worked for the RSPCA until last October.
Simon Hart, the Tory MP and former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said it was “absolutely extraordinary” that the judge had not declared the potential conflict of interest.


The RSPCA is using a sensitive police database nearly 1,500 times a year under a deal giving it privileged access to criminal records.
The animal welfare charity is using the Police National Computer (PNC) an average of 124 times every month in relation to prosecutions it brings.
The scale of its activity raised concerns yesterday as the records are usually regarded as so  sensitive that employers – even in the public sector and involved in working with children – do not have access to them.
Critics accuse the charity of increasing ‘militancy’ by focusing on expensive political stunts  and strong-arm tactics at the expense of its core mission to protect animals.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is to investigate the deal struck in 2010 between the police and the RSPCA.
Under the agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), a private company, the RSPCA can request a criminal record check, paying Acpo at least £35 per search.
Last night Tory MP Simon Hart, former head of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘If any other political organisation had access to the PNC there would be widespread public concern.
‘This is an increasingly politically driven animal rights group which is a shadow of its welfare origins. I will be writing to the Home Secretary and Attorney General to seek clarity as to whether any pressure group can have similar access.’
The deal allows the RSPCA to request information about the criminal records of suspects, witnesses, defendants and victims.
In one 19-month period it made 54 of these detailed checks on the PNC, which would reveal any convictions, cautions, warnings, reprimands and impending prosecutions.
But the bulk of its use of the PNC came as RSPCA officials created fresh records on the database of their own suspects.
During the same 19-month period the charity added 2,311 records of people it intended to prosecute so that their data could be seen by police.
Other organisations holding agreements with Acpo are state bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority and the Food Standards Agency.
The RSPCA, which yesterday revealed that it secured 4,168 animal welfare and cruelty convictions last year, up from 2,441 three years ago, claims it accesses the computer to update records of its prosecutions.
But it has been severely criticised in recent months for being too aggressive in prosecutions and campaigns.
A Conservative councillor who served as election agent for James Gray, a pro-hunting MP, was prosecuted for unlawful hunting, but the case was dropped at the 11th hour. A judge criticised the animal charity for bringing the prosecution even though nobody had seen a fox.
Sir Barney White-Spunner, who heads the Countryside Alliance, called for the RSPCA’s access to police files to be stopped until it is proved lawful.
He said: ‘The RSPCA is neither a public body nor a statutory prosecuting force, it is a campaigning charity with an increasingly militant animal rights agenda.
‘The disclosure of highly personal information held on police databases to the organisation could pose significant risks to the individual concerned.’
An Acpo spokesman said the charity has ‘indirect’ access, which does not include firearms licensing, vehicle registrations or information unrelated to particular prosecutions.

RSPCA accused of using criminal prosecutions to increase revenue

The RSPCA is facing calls to give up its role as a criminal prosecutor following claims that it is using court cases as a means of increasing its revenue.
In the past two years the number of convictions the RSPCA has secured has almost doubled, despite no increase in calls to its cruelty telephone hotline.
Over the same period, donations to the RSPCA have increased by more than 10 per cent, and the salaries of its top executives have rocketed.
Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the charity, admitted to a BBC investigation that there was “a link” between high-profile prosecutions and increased donations, but denied that court cases were used to increase income.
The RSPCA is the second-biggest prosecutor of criminal cases in England and Wales, after the Crown Prosecution Service. Unlike the CPS, which handles cases investigated by the police, the RSPCA acts as both investigator and prosecutor.
Critics say the system is open to abuse, as investigators have a vested interest in seeing their cases successfully prosecuted. They have accused the RSPCA of heavy-handedness, citing cases in which pet owners or animal sanctuaries have been raided on flimsy pretences without any prosecutions resulting. In contrast, the Scottish equivalent of the RSPCA, the SSPCA, passes its case files to the procurator fiscal to ensure impartiality in decisions over prosecution.
Jonathan Rich, a barrister who has defended people prosecuted by the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA needs to stop prosecuting. It needs to put cases together and present them to the CPS.”
David Smith, a vet, said: “I can only think they are after publicity and they think they are going to get more money into the charity.”
In 2010, the RSPCA had 1.63 million calls to its cruelty hotline and secured 2,441 court convictions. By last year, convictions had risen to 4,168 despite calls remaining static. In the same period its charitable income rose from £101 million to £112 million, and the salary of its chief executive increased from about £105,000 (when he was the only member of staff earning more than £100,000) to about £155,000 (when he was one of four staff paid more than £100,000).

Mr Grant told Radio 4’s Face the Facts: “There is a link [between prosecutions and donations] in the sense that a large number of people applaud and are enthusiastic that the RSPCA is prepared to bring animal abusers to justice and are prepared to fund our work.”
But he denied that prosecutions were being used as a shop window for fundraising, saying: “They are a direct way of saying to people out there you should treat animals with compassion and respect.”
The Countryside Alliance has said the charity is becoming increasingly “militant” in its use of prosecutions, many of which were “politically motivated”, such as cases brought against hunt members. Barney White-Spunner, the alliance’s executive chairman, said: “Surely we have a Crown Prosecution Service precisely to prevent that sort of abuse?”

The BBC also claimed that the RSPCA tried to discredit defence witnesses. Mr Grant said there was “no place for smears or innuendo” in the charity.

Monday, 20 May 2013


The RSPCA tried to ruin my life, says top barrister: A decade of accusations - and a £1m legal bill to defend his good name

  •  Jonathan Rich, defended hundreds of people against RSPCA over 20 years
  • Friend of Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, an RSPCA inspector turned whistleblower
  • She accused the charity of destroying her character
  • She was found hanged at her home this month

Cambridge-educated Jonathan Rich, who defended hundreds of people against the RSPCA over 20 years, said he has spent almost £1million defending professional allegations made by the charity
Jonathan Rich, Persecuted by the RSPCA
A leading barrister yesterday claimed he had been forced to stop working on cases involving the RSPCA because the charity tried to ‘ruin’ his life with spurious complaints.
Cambridge-educated Jonathan Rich, who defended hundreds of people against the RSPCA over 20 years, said he has spent almost £1million defending professional allegations made by the charity about his conduct.

He was a friend of Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, an RSPCA inspector turned whistleblower who also accused the charity of destroying her character.
She was found hanged at her home this month.
Yesterday Mr Rich, 46, said times had been ‘very tough’ and he might have suffered the same fate, were it not for his resolve and the love and support of his family.
‘I think the RSPCA were probably working on the basis that I wouldn’t be as strong as I proved to be,’ Mr Rich told the Daily Mail.
‘My insurers and I have spent a lot of money defending their claims and I’ve been through some very, very tough times, but I’ve got a  fantastic wife who has been very supportive and my family have got me through.

‘Other people faced with what I have had to contend with might well have killed themselves.
‘I am not ashamed to say I have been treated for reactive depression as a result of my ordeal. Two years ago I nearly died from a stress-related condition.’

Mr Rich, a contemporary of the Prime Minister at Eton and a Tory councillor, said problems began around 2003 when the  charity made the first of several formal and informal complaints linked to cases he was defending.
‘For two decades I had a superb track record, I won a lot of cases against the RSPCA, but it started to get vicious in the noughties,’ Mr Rich, a father of three, added.
‘I really believe everybody has the right to a defence and targeting a lawyer really is not a legitimate strategy. They set out  to ruin me.
‘While I would love to carry on I am very, very tired of fighting them. I felt I had no choice but to stop taking cases involving the RSPCA for my own well-being and that of  my family.’ 
Mr Rich’s comments will put further pressure on the charity, which has been criticised for recent high-profile, expensive legal cases and an aggressive publicity campaign. 
It is currently being investigated by the Charity Commission over its stance against badger culling and live animal exports.
Last November Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, wrote a Twitter message to Mr Rich, saying: ‘Please remind me why you no longer defend animal abusers against RSPCA prosecutions? We’ve +98% success rate as you know.’
rspca page.jpg

The barrister, who also practises property and commercial law, said the tweet was indicative of an organisation that was concerned with animal rights ‘but has little regard for humanity’. 
In the past ten years the charity has made two direct complaints of professional misconduct against Mr Rich to the Bar Standards Board, while another nine have been made by people working on cases involving the RSPCA. The charity claims it played no role in these.
Mr Rich, who has never had a  single complaint made about his conduct by any other organisation or individual in 24 years at the  Bar, said all had been dropped,  dismissed or struck out and he had never faced a full hearing. Three remain active.
He and Miss Aubrey-Ward, whose character was publicly attacked  by the charity after she accused it of putting healthy dogs to sleep because they were deemed not suitable for rehoming, became friends because of their treatment by the RSPCA.
‘We were both going through the same sort of nightmare with the same assailant,’ Mr Rich said.
‘It was a relief for me to find  someone like her to talk to and she told me she felt the same. I feel a terrible sense of loss.’ 

A spokesman for the RSPCA said it made complaints only in ‘extreme circumstances and following established processes’. 
She added: ‘The RSPCA has secured nearly 10,000 convictions in the magistrates’ courts in the past three years alone and, to our knowledge, Mr Rich is the only  barrister the RSPCA has ever  complained about in terms of professional conduct.’
Last December the RSPCA was criticised by a judge after it emerged it had spent a ‘staggering’ £326,000 on a magistrates’ court prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt, David Cameron’s local hunt in Oxfordshire.
Earlier this month another judge said it had wasted court time in a case concerning a hunt linked to a pro-hunting Tory councillor. 
The legal action cost the charity £50,000 but resulted in two fines of just £300.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


RIP Dawn, your pursuit of justice and your determination in the face of evil was an inspiration to all.
Your work will continue!

Former inspector Dawn Aubrey-Ward, 43, first spoke out about practices at the charity in December, warning that they were unnecessarily killing animals.
After the article appeared in a Sunday newspaper the RSPCA issue a statement attacking her character and describing her as a “disgruntled former employee”.
Ms Aubrey-Ward said that the response was “evil” and that the charity had put her through “hell”, tweeting: “They ruined my life”.
In the months before her body was found at her home in Somerset by one of her children she had approached other newspapers, according to the Times.
The day before she was found dead she is said to gave posted on Facebook: "That's it, I give up. I am unemployed, broke, struggling and allegedly 'damaged'."
In the article in the Mail on Sunday in December Ms Aubrey-Ward claimed that she was forced to put down healthly pets during her two year career with the RSPCA because they could not be re homed.
Thousands of animals, particularly dogs, were being killed unnecessarily, it was said.
Afterward the RSPCA’s head of press issued a statement claiming the story was “inaccurate and biased”, adding: “Please be aware of the fact that Dawn Aubrey-Ward is a disgruntled former employee of the RSPCA who was subject to a disciplinary investigation for alleged theft of animals.
“She left the organisation with matters still pending.
“There were also police concerns drawn to the RSPCA's attention of irregularities relating to her possession of firearms and some welfare concerns regarding animals under her care during her working time for us.”
She tweeted in response: "They really are stooping low! My animals are happy healthy and as for concerns omg! That is evil!"
The ‘theft’ related to a tortoise she had taken home from a police station and the firearms related to the storage of a gun and ammunition used to destroy animals.
Jonathan Rich, a friend and barrister, described the RSPCA treatment of her as “disgraceful” and said it had made it hard for her to find work.
Ms Aubrey-Ward openly admitted she suffered with “severe depression”, but asked “hardly surprising is it?”
An inquest into her death has been opened and adjourned.

Monday, 7 January 2013


 Britain’s biggest animal welfare charity is one of the country's most complained about charities, figures from charities regulator suggest.
The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, disclosed that it has received 12 complaints about the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals over the past two years.
The RSPCA has been criticised by a judge and reported to the Commission by MPs and peers for controversially funding a successful £326,000 prosecution against Prime Minister David Cameron’s local hunt last month.
In a Freedom of Information response, the Commission said it recorded 12 complaints against the RSPCA, behind only the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the HFSH Charitable Trust, a spiritual healers charity, with 13 “cases” each, in the two years until March 31 2012.
Referring specifically to the RSPCA, the Commission said it had “received complaints from different members of the public, primarily about the service provided by the charity, the charity’s activities or general decisions taken by the trustees in the course of their day to day management of the charity”.
It added: “In all instances the Commission felt that the complaints were best addressed by explaining its role and providing general advice and guidance to the complainants on the charity’s position. "In certain cases the complainants were advised to contact the trustees directly.”
Simon Hart MP, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance who obtained the figures under the FOI Act, said: “No animal based charity should the subject of so many complaints.
“It suggests a loss of direction and leadership, and a focus on political ideology at the expense of animal welfare.”
The figures were issued by the Charity Commission to Mr Hart last July, several months before a judge criticised the charity for the “staggering” cost of the prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire.
The MPs and peers have reported the RSPCA’s 18 trustees to the Charity Commission last month for breaching a “duty of prudence” which governs the actions of all charity trustees under charity legislation.
The group – which includes Tory grandee Lord Heseltine – also told the watchdog that they had “concerns about the motivation for bringing this prosecution”.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “The RSPCA is unique among charities in England and Wales. No other charity can claim to campaign for legislative change, and then to uphold the very laws that it fought for with such dedication.
“Throughout our history, the RSPCA has never and will never shy away from making decisions that we believe further the cause of prevention of cruelty to animals – no matter how unpopular they may prove with some people.
“It goes without saying that many of the decisions we make will upset those who believe they can break the law and get away with it.
“We make no apology for that. Our ‘raison d'etre’ is to be the voice and protector of animals that cannot protect themselves.”
A spokesman for the Commission said: “We do not keep league tables in relation to complaints which we receive about charities. Large national charities which are membership organisations like the RSPCA invariably have a high public profile and do attract public attention.
“Many concerns which may be raised with the Commission about the way the charity conducts its affairs are not matters for the Commission as charity regulator as they are matters for the charity itself.
“Trustees are permitted to exercise their duties and responsibilities in the best interests of the charity as they think fit. The Commission would only be concerned as regulator where a charity was in clear breach of its duties and responsibilities as a charity.
“This would not include interfering with decisions made by the charity where these have been properly made.
“Ultimately trustees are responsible for running the charity and for dealing with any reputational issues which might arise.”

Sunday, 6 January 2013


A local branch of the RSPCA is facing closure due to lack of funds, despite its head office spending hundreds of thousands of pounds successfully prosecuting Prime Minister David Cameron's local hunt.
David Cameron pays a visit to the Heythrop Hunt

 The animal welfare charity's branch in Preston, Lancashire - which costs just £600 a day to run - has said that it only has enough money left to stay open for another two months.
The RSPCA's national office said last night that it said it would not step in to pay for the running costs of the Preston branch because it was a separate charity and urged people to donate to it directly.
The news will alarm animal welfare campaigners because the weeks after Christmas can be busy for animal rescue centres as it is the time when families who bring back unwanted pets which were given as presents.
If the 126-year-old branch is forced to close, there are fears that hundreds of abandoned pets could have to be rehoused.
The RSPCA has been under fire after a judge criticised the charity for sanctioning a “staggering” £326,000 to be spent on a prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire, with which David Cameron has ridden in the past.
The MPs and peers have reported the RSPCA’s 18 trustees to the Charity Commission for breaching a “duty of prudence” which governs the actions of all charity trustees under charity legislation.
The group – which includes Tory grandee Lord Heseltine – also told the watchdog that they had “concerns about the motivation for bringing this prosecution”.
Tory MP Simon Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said last night that it was “very sad” that a branch which daily cared for sick and injured animals was potentially closing down weeks after the prosecution.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “It is very sad that pets are going uncared for due to lack of funds at the same time as the Charity spends a third of a million on a case that will not save the life of a single fox.
“There is a huge difference between being an animal welfare organisation, which the RSPCA used to be famous for, and an animal rights one, which is what the society is fast becoming.”
The RSPCA declined to say whether its national office, which last year received £100million in donations, would intervene to stop the Preston branch from closing.


The animal welfare organisation has badly lost its way under its new leadership
Where is your money going? The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty, including hunting, to court - Our once great RSPCA is being destroyed by a militant tendency
Where is your money going? The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty, including hunting, to court.
One must always treat lawyers with respect, so let me state at once that I have absolutely nothing against Jeremy Carter-Manning QC. From his entry in Who’s Who, I see that he was educated at St Paul’s School, called to the Bar nearly 40 years ago, and that his recreations include “food and wine”, which he pursues in the Reform Club. I have no doubt he is esteemed in his profession.
Most of us might have passed our entire lives without ever hearing of Mr Carter-Manning QC, were it not for a bill submitted for his costs at Bicester magistrates’ court last month. He charged £73,310.80 plus VAT. (His two fellow counsel added another £90,000.) Mr Carter-Manning’s services cost £300 an hour, so I calculate that he worked for roughly 244 hours on this case.
What was he doing? According to Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, which hired him, he was watching “hundreds of hours of footage” of the Heythrop Hunt to see if offences had been committed under the Hunting Act. Eventually, the RSPCA brought 52 charges against four hunt members. Two were acquitted, but two pleaded guilty to four charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, a charge so minor that it is classified as “non-recordable”. They – and the hunt corporately – were fined a total of less than £7,000.
The costs that the RSPCA submitted to the court were £326,000. The district judge, who rejected the RSPCA’s attempt to conceal this amount from public gaze, described them as “quite staggering”. Despite the RSPCA “winning”, the charity therefore had to pay most of them itself.
As I say, no blame attaches to Mr Carter-Manning QC. He must live. If he can get £300 an hour for staring at grainy amateur film to see if hounds are chasing after foxes, good luck to him. But the more one reflects on this enterprise, the more extraordinary it is.  
Charities must, by law, act prudently with their funds. The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty to court, and since it regards hunting as cruel, this comes within its remit. But Mr Grant himself says that his organisation brought 2,000 prosecutions last year, at a total cost of £5 million, an average of £2,500 a go. If each of these 2,000 cases had cost the same as the Heythrop case, the RSPCA would have spent approximately £660 million on them – way beyond the means of any charity in the entire history of the planet.
So why, in terms of animal cruelty, was the Heythrop Hunt case considered more than 100 times more important than the torture of a pony, or the starvation of a cat, or alsatians, overcrowded and filthy, locked in a tower block all day, or all the other horrible things that human beings do to animals?
It wasn’t, of course. Even a fierce opponent of hunting could not make that claim. The difference is political. Under Mr Grant, who took over last year, the RSPCA is militant. The Heythrop Hunt was chosen because its country is in David Cameron’s constituency. Mr Grant has denied that he is fighting a class war: “This isn’t about accents,” he declared. But he also said to the Daily Mirror that those hunting with the Heythrop were “no different from badger baiters – apart from their accents”, so accents would seem to be on his mind. He says he wants the men to go to prison for between two and five years.
As you would expect, the RSPCA has its own legal department, well-versed, presumably, in looking at film of alleged animal cruelty. But that wasn’t good enough for Mr Grant. He had to get the QC in and pay him to watch the movies. He wanted this to be big.
A similar tendency to go for the dramatic gesture was visible when Mr Grant called for a boycott of all milk produced by farmers who had agreed to take part in the badger cull (later postponed) to help eradicate bovine – and badger – TB. People would not want to buy milk from farms “soaked in badgers’ blood”, he said. In Ramsgate, in September, RSPCA inspectors, worried about defective live animal transport, insisted on unloading sheep at the port and shooting more than 40 that they deemed unfit to travel. Two sheep also drowned in a water tank. Mr Grant has defended what the inspectors did, without qualification.
He is entitled to his views. But when you look at the main work for which the RSPCA is valued, you see that it is overwhelmingly the practical rescue and care of animals. On its website, the emphasis is on this good work, and on practical advice about disease, strays, worming etc. The RSPCA’s key “five pledges” do not mention prosecutions.
Because of its care of animals, the RSPCA is treated in a special way. Its inspectors wear uniforms, though they have no legal powers. Chief constables encourage its prosecution work. And – a little known fact – if the RSPCA brings a case and loses it, the costs of the defendants are usually borne by the taxpayer. So the RSPCA can prosecute almost without thinking. It can go to law as a marketing tool or to make a political point.
This is an abuse of the privileges our culture has traditionally granted it. These, including its many legacies, its charitable status and the patronage of the Queen, came because the RSPCA was an animal welfare organisation – and people strongly support that. Recently, it has become an animal rights organisation instead.
The doctrine of animal rights, developed by Dr Richard Ryder, who is on the RSPCA Council, regards human beings as morally identical to “other animals”, so they should never kill animals for food or clothing, let alone sport. Dr Ryder thinks that people who disagree are guilty of “speciesism”, which, like racism, is profoundly wicked. Mr Grant is highly sympathetic to these views. A former Liberal Democrat activist, he sees his work as a political campaign. This alienates large numbers of people – farmers, horse-racing bodies, dog organisations – who work professionally with animals, not to mention officials and ministers at Defra. Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, recently told the RSPCA to be “wary” of muddling charity and politics. Relationships which once were co-operative have become confrontational.
People are naturally starting to ask by what right the RSPCA acts. Despite its policy of never killing a “rehousable” animal, it admits to putting down 3,400 animals for non-medical reasons in 2011. Its membership has fallen to only 25,000. This is a tenth of the numbers who turn out to support hunts on Boxing Day and a fortieth of the membership of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Whom, then, does it actually represent? The RSPCA website does little to attract members, as opposed to donations. It looks as if it likes to trade on its huge, historic reputation, without answering to anyone.
Over 30 years ago, a comparable takeover occurred in the Labour Party. A mass movement originally designed to advance the interests of workers was infiltrated by the Militant Tendency. Today, a movement originally designed to advance the interests of animals hangs in the balance.
By the way, I notice a postscript on the bill submitted to Bicester magistrates’ court. “Counsel,” it says, “have carried out and will carry out other work in relation to this type of prosecution in general.” If you are thinking of giving money to the RSPCA, you might as well cut out the middle man and send it straight to Mr Jeremy Carter-Manning QC instead.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


We ask the government to investigate the RSPCA's activities, especially where they infringe civl or legal rights.

Responsible department: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The RSPCA use "bully boy" tactics against innocent members of the public to bring prosecutions. They often infringe on citizens civil and legal rights.
They misuse funds which have been donated by members of the public specifically for animal welfare for their own political gain in bringing these often vexatious prosecutions. This petition asks that the government investigate fully the actions of the RSPCA, ensure that they are unable to prosecute anyone as that is the remit of the CPS and ensure tighter rules are in place from the charities commission to prevent registered charities from using funds for political lobbying or bringing private prosecutions.