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Regulator 'showed no concern' about RSPCA's prosecution of Heythrop Hunt

The animal protection charity 'welcomed and was unsurprised by the outcome' of a meeting with senior executives at the regulator

Heythrop Hunt on Boxing Day last year
Heythrop Hunt on Boxing Day last year

The Charity Commission "expressed no concern" at a meeting yesterday about the RSPCA’s recent prosecution of a hunt, according to the animal protection charity.

Senior executives from the commission met RSPCA representatives yesterday to discuss the charity’s approach to prosecutions, particularly its high-profile prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire.

A spokeswoman for the charity said the regulator had "expressed no concern about the decisions made by the RSPCA", including the prosecution of the hunt. "The RSPCA welcomed and was unsurprised by this outcome," she added.

Ray Goodfellow, the RSPCA’s chief legal officer, and John Grounds, its director of marketing and campaigns, attended the meeting on behalf of the charity. The commission refused to say who had represented the regulator other than that they were "senior executives". However it is understood that its chair, William Shawcross, was not present.

The meeting came after a cross-party group of politicians called on the commission to investigate the RSPCA for spending more than £320,000 on the successful prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt. In a letter to the regulator last month, they said trustees had failed in their "duty of prudence" to the charity and its funds.

In a reply, Shawcross said the regulator was seeking "an early meeting" with the RSPCA to discuss its approach to prosecutions.

A commission spokeswoman said that yesterday’s meeting involved discussion of the RSPCA’s approach to prosecutions in general, the recent prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt in particular and the responsibilities of trustees in decisions about making prosecutions.

"Decisions to undertake prosecutions are properly for trustees to make and are not normally matters of regulatory concern for the commission," she said. "We are not investigating the RSPCA – the position has not changed as a result of the meeting."

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