RSPCA's legal fighting fund has received £160,000 since December

The animal welfare charity says its supporters want it to continue its legal work after its successful private prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire


The RSPCA has raised £160,000 for its special legal fighting fund since December.

The charity said it had been given the money by supporters who particularly wished to support its legal work after it faced criticism for spending £327,000 on the successful private prosecution of a hunting group in Oxfordshire for killing a fox.

A page on the charity’s website has been set up to encourage people to donate to the fund.

The animal welfare charity launched the fund at about the same time that it won a private prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt for illegal fox hunting in December.

Announcing the verdict in the case, the presiding judge questioned whether supporters of the charity would feel that donors' money had been wisely spent.

The charity responded by saying that the fighting fund had been set up to receive donations to support future prosecutions. 

A spokesman for the charity said this week that it would still have to use a proportion of normal donations to carry out its role as a prosecutor in animal welfare cases.

"We will continue to use a small percentage of the generous donations from members of the public to help fund our prosecution cases, which are taken as part of the RSPCA’s remit to prevent animal cruelty," he said.

"It should be made clear that we spend less than 5p in every £1 donated to us on the legal costs related to prosecutions," the spokesman said.

The charity spent £4.7m – about 4 per cent of its income – on 2,000 private prosecutions last year.

"Without the public’s continued support we would be unable to take action against those who are responsible for causing cruelty, neglect and suffering to animals," the spokesman added.

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