RSPCA to meet the Charity Commission tomorrow to discuss prosecutions

Ray Goodfellow, the animal charity's chief legal officer, and John Grounds, its director of marketing and campaigns, will discuss its private prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt with the regulator

Ray Goodfellow
Ray Goodfellow

The RSPCA has confirmed that two of its senior executives will attend a meeting with the Charity Commission tomorrow to discuss the charity’s approach to prosecutions.

The charity said that Ray Goodfellow, its chief legal officer, and John Grounds, its director of marketing and campaigns, would attend the meeting at the commission’s London headquarters in Millbank.

The meeting comes in the wake of criticism of the RSPCA for spending more than £320,000 on a successful private prosecution of Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire for illegal fox hunting. In a letter to the commission last month, a cross-party group of politicians accused RSPCA trustees of failing in their "duty of prudence" to the organisation and its funds and called on William Shawcross, chair of the commission, to investigate.

In a reply to the politicians last week, Shawcross said the commission was "seeking an early meeting with the RSPCA to discuss their approach to prosecutions in general and to this case in particular".

A commission spokeswoman refused to say who would represent the regulator. "It is not the regulator’s practice to give a running commentary on any engagement we have with any charity," she said.

But she stressed that the regulator was not investigating the charity, nor did it have regulatory concerns about the charity at this point.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "Representatives of the campaign to bring back bloodsports have written to the Charity Commission to raise a number of issues in relation to the RSPCA, particularly with regard to our prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt, which resulted in a number criminal convictions for those involved in breaches of the Hunting Act.

"The Charity Commission is duty bound to respond to such letters as part of due process. The RSPCA has provided a written response to the Charity Commission that demonstrates we have acted in accordance with our charitable objects and with due process. This will be well known to those who wrote the letter."

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