(I’m doing this on my phone so you don’t get any links and spelling/names might be slightly out.)
The RSPCA prosecuted the Heythorpe Hunt, David Camerons’ local hunt, for deliberately hunting with dogs. The hunt admitted their guilt and it cost the RSOCA approx £330,000 as they brought their own prosecution rather than leave it to the CPS.
The judge in the case made comment along the lines of the RSPCA being a bit silly and that amount of money could’ve been spent better elsewhere. Presumably stopping poor people killing animals for fun in council estates rather than stopping rich people killing animals for fun in the countywide.
The defendants also made claim that this prosecution was politically motivated because the prime minister has ridden with them a few times.
Two things here.
1. I’m pretty sure if the RSPCA had evidence of other hunts hunting dogs on purpose and not just losing control of the dogs, then they’d prosecute. To gather evidence to a standard where one can prove a hunt is deliberately going after foxes is notoriously difficult. Which is partly the second point.
2. For the judge to comment in his closing speech (or whatever it’s called) on the cost and what the prosecutors should do with their money instead is completely outrageous.
The court case is for someone to defend themselves against specific allegations of law breaking. The accuser is not on trial, if the accuser is bringing a private prosecution it is not up to the judge to tell them they should be spending their money elsewhere. The judge should deal with the case and that’s it.
The judge though, by bringing up how much the RSPCA had to spend to get this case to court, raises an important point – the cost of the law. Ask anyone that has has serious dealings with the law and they will agree. The law is not for the poor man but how much it costs is not a debate for a court case.
The RSPCA said they brought the case because they had no faith in the CPS, and they’re probably right. To get the evidence of deliberately hunting with dogs is extremely time consuming and I guess to get a successful prosecution a prosecutor actually needs to be there at the time. It’s probably quite hard to prove the ‘deliberate’ part after the event, and the police etc cannot be there at every hunt meeting just in case, that really would cause an outrage.
Private or public prosecution, it is not up to the judge to decide whether it is a waste of money or not. His job is to preside over the court and ensure justice is done. This judge should be seriously reprimanded.