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.”