The Countryside Alliance (CA) has accused the RSPCA of a ?blatant political attack on hunting? after the animal welfare charity served summons on the Heythrop Hunt for 52 charges related to the 2004 Hunting Act.
Recently retired senior master Richard Sumner, joint-master Vanessa Lambert, kennel-huntsman Julian Barnfield and whipper-in Duncan Hume were all named in the summons.
CA executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said that no one from the hunt, which operates in the Prime Minister?s Witney constituency, has been questioned by the police or RSPCA over the allegations which allegedly occurred in the 2011/12 hunting season.
Sir Barney said: ?This is an abuse of the court system. It is no accident that the RSPCA, which was a major part of the campaign to ban hunting, only brings private prosecutions against hunts in the Prime Minister?s constituency.?
It is believed that the RSPCA?s campaign could cost it as much as £1million. In March, the charity announced that it was facing hefty budget cuts, and that a staffing review could lead to a reduction of more than 130 posts.
Sir Barney added: ?It should be for the police to investigate alleged crimes and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring cases, not for campaigning organisations to use the courts to make political points.?
The rest of this article appears in the 16th May issue of Shooting Times.
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