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Tory MP: RSPCA Heythrop Hunt prosecution has a 'strong political edge'

Conservative MP Simon Hart
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Tory MP: RSPCA Heythrop Hunt prosecution has a 'strong political edge'4

Governance | Vibeka Mair | 17 Jan 2013

The RSPCA says the Charity Commission has expressed "no concern" about its recent prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt, as Conservative MP Simon Hart vows he and a group of politicians will continue to pile pressure on the charity about its prosecutions.

Speaking to civilsociety.co.uk, Hart said the RSPCA’s recent successful prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire had a “strong political edge”.

“It’s odd that out of all the numbers of potential cases which could have been brought, the RSPCA chose one involving David Cameron’s constituents,” he said.

Hart, who along with a cross-party group of politicians has asked the Charity Commission to investigate the RSPCA’s activities, said there were questions around whether the charity could be an impartial prosecutor and political campaigning organisation with commercial interests.

Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, plans to table a parliamentary debate on the issue. “If it looks like the RSPCA is using its favourable condition of charitable status to further its political causes we will continue to shine a light on it.”

In response to enquires about its meeting with the RSPCA, the Charity Commission said:  “Senior Charity Commission executives have met with senior representatives from the RSPCA.  We discussed the RSPCA’s approach to prosecutions in general, and the recent prosecution of the Heythrop hunt in particular, and the responsibilities of trustees in making decisions about undertaking prosecutions.   Decisions to undertake prosecutions are properly for trustees to make, and are not normally matters of regulatory concern for the Commission.  We are not investigating the RSPCA - the position has not changed as a result of the meeting.”

The RSPCA added: “The Charity Commission has expressed no concern about the decisions made by the RSPCA, including the recent prosecution of the Heythrop hunt. The RSPCA welcomed and was unsurprised by this outcome.The Charity Commission has confirmed that it was not investigating the RSPCA and this is still the case.”

 

Pattie B
23 Jan 2013

Simon Hart should put his bloodlust to one side and get on with his proper job as an MP. The RSPCA is not political it is doing what its supporters expect it to do, and that is to prosecute animal abusers. The only people playing politics here are the MPs and the Countryside Allance, who abuse their position to try to smear an honourable organisation for their own devious ends which is a repeal of the hunting Act. I thought MPs were supposed to reflect the view of the people who voted them in, not pursue their own private abberations. Hunting with hounds is against the law and those who break the law should be caught and punished. Simon Hart you should not be in Parliament when you defend criminal behaviour. The majority dont want the Act repealed we want it strengthened, so that our wildlife can be left to live in peace.

Ruth Griffiths
uk resident
25 Jan 2013
Response to [Pattie B]

Brilliantly said patti. What a cheek, wasting parliamentary time to assist his bloodthirsty hunt buddies further their cause. Vile hunting back? No way get used to it hart. The british people said no & no means no!!!!!!!!!!!

Philip Kirkpatrick
Joint Head of Charity and Social Enterprise
Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP
19 Jan 2013

Simon Hart MP is quite wrong here . First, the RSPCA has no special legal status as prosecutor . Any person can bring a private a prosecution, subject to the Attorney General' s right to intervene. So, as a matter of law, no question can arise as to whether RSPCA should be entitled to bring prosecutions merely because it has an interest in the outcome. Every citizen has a proper interest in the law being upheld. And the trustees would, of course, be misappropriating charity funds if the charity did not have an interest in the outcome.

Second, taking legal action in the courts to procure that the law is upheld is not political in charity law terms. The politics of this were determined in Parliament when the Hunting Act 2004 was passed. Enforcement of the law is quite another matter. I expect that the RSPCA trustees are motivated by a desire to see that this particular law is enforced and they have every right to do so if they take the view that the law was enacted to prevent cruelty to animals and that to enforce it is likely to prevent such cruelty.

Mr Hart' s real concern is more likely with the very existence of the Hunting Act 2004 and, rather than denigrating the lawful activities of charities, he should use his position as a Member of Parliament to seek to enact the laws that he thinks should govern our society.

Sir Robin Bogg
CEO
BUBB
17 Jan 2013

It may just be that instead of being politically motivated, the RSPCA is prosecuting hunts in areas where there are hunts. Which are far more likely to be in Tory areas. You don't tend to get them in inner city Labour strongholds apparently despite there being urban foxes.

Not that there is a strong political edge (or personal conviction) to Hart's comments and actions of course. Which are ultimately publicly funded.

And you can tell him I said so.

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