The Charity Commission has raised concerns with the League Against Cruel Sports, following a complaint made relating to a blog on the charity’s website which threatened to target corporate sponsors of the West Vale Somerset Hunt.
The League Against Cruel Sports was reported to the Charity Commission by the Campaign for Hunting after the blog was published on the League's website in September.
The blog said the League would “target [the Hunt’s] corporate sponsors until [the Hunt] see fit to discipline a member of their staff who while on duty assaulted a person lawfully going about their business”.
A League Against Cruel Sports spokeswoman told civilsociety.co.uk that the charity’s head of operations Paul Tillsley was hit over the head with a whip and pushed to the ground when he was out monitoring a West Vale Somerset hunt earlier this year. The Horse and Hound reports that the Hunt's whipper-in David Bevan pleaded guilty on 6 September to assaulting Tillsley. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
The Campaign for Hunting termed the charity’s blog in response to the incident a “campaign of intimidation”, and complained to the Charity Commission.
A League spokeswoman said it was a complete “over-reaction” spun by the Campaign for Hunting, and accused it of “harrassing” the Charity Commission:
“We have been made aware of the complaint by a letter from the Commission,” she said. “We feel sorry that the Charity Commission has been dragged into this.”
She accused other media outlets of spinning the story to make it appear that the Charity Commission had admonished the charity.
She added: "We approached a company and said, in light of the conviction, whether it wanted to continue to sponsor the Hunt's annual show.
"The company said it had never given permission for its name to be used, and had written to the Hunt asking not to be associated with it."
However, the Campaign for Hunting's Tim Bonner has insisted in a local paper that the League's actions are outside its remit:
"The charity has been very clear about the reasons for its campaign," he said. "It is targeting Mr Bevan, his employers and their sponsors because of an altercation with one of its staff members, which the charity seems to believe requires action beyond the police and the courts. This has nothing to do with any of the stated objects of the charity."
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "The Charity Commission received a complaint about the activities of League Against Cruel Sports relating to the charity's apparent targeted campaigning against corporate sponsors of the West Vale Somerset Hunt.
"We have raised the issue with the charity and reminded them that any activity carried out in their name must be in accordance with the charity's aims. We have also referred the charity trustees to the Commission's guidance on trustees' roles and responsibilities."