In the magazine .. Private Eye.

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In the magazine .. Private Eye.

Post  Admin on Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:14 pm

THE RSPCA took some flak after its recent hugely expensive prosecution of the Heythrop hunt (see the last Eye’s Agri Brigade). Yet the kerfuffle about whether the charity was pursuing some sort of class war agenda distracted attention from the fact that it often sprays its supporters’ money about on private prosecutions that seem to be in neither animals’ nor people’s interest.
Of particular concern are its prosecutions of elderly and vulnerable people.

In 2011, a 71-year-old pensioner from Manchester, Pauline Spoor, was prosecuted for cruelty to her pet dog, Dexter. He had arthritis, like her, and the RSPCA had him put down. She was convicted and tagged for three months. The RSPCA defended its decision to prosecute an elderly woman, saying it was “right and proper”.

Last year another pensioner, Georgina Langley from West Hougham in Kent, had her cats, cockerels and rescue dog taken away by the RSPCA. She was then charged with 13 charges of neglect (11 of which were withdrawn at the last moment, as is often the case). She pleaded guilty to two minor charges of not getting veterinary care quickly enough. The RSPCA put down five of her cats but an independent post-mortem, carried out on two of the cats by the Royal Veterinary College, found both were healthy. The RSPCA pushed for costs of £28,000 against Langley. The magistrate refused to order costs or a fine against her, returned a number of her animals and gave her a conditional discharge.

In 2007, the owner of an animal sanctuary in Sunderland, Clifford Spedding, who had been prosecuted by the RSPCA for cruelty offences, had his suspended jail sentence lifted and his banning order for keeping animals rescinded on appeal. Allowing the appeal, Judge Peter Armstrong said: “The appellant began to suffer from depression and was simply unable to cope with a large number of animals and birds that had been dumped upon him.” He praised the work Mr Spedding had done over many years to protect animals. Lawyers the Eye has spoken to cite numerous similar cases.

** The RSPCA is thought to be the most prolific private prosecutor in the country – certainly no other charity prosecutes anywhere near as many cases. Its sister charity in Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, does not carry out private prosecutions, sending cases it has investigated to the Procurator Fiscal (the Scottish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service) instead. The same is true of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which used to prosecute but stopped in 1992.

The RSPCA has continued to increase the number of private prosecutions since 2006, when the Labour government passed the Animal Welfare Act. Last year it secured convictions in more than 3,000 “cruelty” cases, at a cost of £8.7m. Barrister Jonathan Rich, who has defended numerous people in RSPCA cases, describes the charity’s “Inspectorate” as “an officious, sub-standard, pretend police force”. It’s hard to disagree. RSPCA officers wear uniforms which are almost indistinguishable from police garb, leading to confusion about their powers when they doorstep people (in fact they have none).

The CPS often chooses not to prosecute elderly defendants or those with mental health conditions or other disabilities. The RSPCA takes a different view: it sends out press releases naming elderly and disabled defendants – who are then sometimes targeted by animal rights activists.

An e-petition asking the government to inquire into the RSPCA’s “vexatious prosecutions” has gathered more than 6,600 signatures in just a couple of weeks. Could 2013 be the year the RSPCA stops being cruel to human beings?


** Note the fifth paragraph .. makes interesting reading.
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In The Magazine...Private Eye

Post  Trilby Bee on Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:48 pm

I had read the bit about Georgina Langley...she was known locally as 'the cat lady' as she helped so many from her limited income, and she is the stereotype of victim claimed by the RSPCA. And as for the costs being £28k, this would be because the RSPCA deliberately uses money-grabbing shyster vets. You can bet this lady would in be eligible for subsidised veterinary treatment but the RSPCA would pick out Mr Greedy Sod and persuade him to do all manner of unnecessary tests on the animals and poultry.
And just out of interest, whoever WAS picking up the tab for the post mortems on the cats? Why did they pick the Royal Vet College may I ask? I ask this because I know from experience that you can go there with £2500 insurance and it will not last longer than four days. A consultation at the RVC cost me over £250. That was Saturday morning, not Bank Holiday or middle of the night. I doubt Ms. Langley asked for them.
Well, word is getting round certainly...I think the Heythrop scandal was the final nail in the coffin actually!
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Re: In the magazine .. Private Eye.

Post  Admin on Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:15 pm

"Well, word is getting round certainly...I think the Heythrop scandal was the final nail in the coffin actually!"

I think you could well be right there T.
It has certainly made people sit up and take notice.





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Ref to CPS etc

Post  millie1* on Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:40 pm

I think that we would all rest a lot more securely if the CPS were to conduct the cases potentially raised by the RSPCA and other charities - a policeman has actually told me that since the CPS took over their prosecutions they have to provide much more evidence etc and that in the past many cases went ahead when in fact the police did not believe that they would win (or should infact win). In addition the guide to plead guilty early to get a lesser sentence must be taken with the following advice: -

If you plead guilty you CANNOT appeal against conviction only sentence.
If you plead NOT GUILTY you can appeal against both conviction and sentence and bear in mind the following- if you lose in magistrates court (likely as RSPCA has a 98% success rate), if you have a reasonable case you have a greater than 50% chance of WINNING an appeal against them, and even if you dont win your sentence MAY go down.
If you please guilty you also cannot go to European Court of Human Rights on unfair trial basis, lack of domestic remedy or individual disadvantage ie once you plead guilty you MUST be guilty in the eyes of the law.

If you really dont believe you have done anything wrong then you MUST MUST MUST plead not guilty - the trials and the legal system are a pain but its the only way. On the subject Legal Aid will cover most financially stretched defendants including an EXPERT witness (usually about £1000 for this bit), without an expert you are likely to get an UNFAIR trial hance why they will cover this since they dont want to raise UNFAIR and UNSAFE convictions.
There are changes coming for the legal aid system - has anyone out there looked to see what they are and maybe post a link to this site so new users can see what they can apply for????

Hope you are all well and keeping heads up - any more info on Charities commission or Parliamentary debate??
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Re: In the magazine .. Private Eye.

Post  Admin on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:45 pm

Yes Millie, in the thread below this one. The Charities Commission has contacted the RSPCA with regards to prosecutions.
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Re: In the magazine .. Private Eye.

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