I'M afraid that Robin Rhoderick-Jones is being somewhat disingenuous regarding the prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt and the accusations he has levelled at John Twyford in Hunts strive hard to stay within the law, Mr Twyford, Postbag, January 15.
In reality, there were 45 charges taken into court against the Heythrop itself and four of its senior members, based on 10 2011/12 season instances.
One reason that RSPCA costs were so high was because the Heythrop vigorously denied all charges until, late in the day, announcing they would plead guilty to 12. By maintaining 'not guilty' pleas for so long, they avoided racking up huge legal fees for the preparation of cases they actually had no intention of defending while forcing the RSPCA into doing just that.
Furthermore, Robin Rhoderick-Jones implied that the Heythrop was convicted on a mere 15 minutes of illegal hunting. What he failed to say was that the 15 minutes were merely the culmination of one part of an illegal hunt which was sufficient for a conviction. It would have been a waste of court time to show all of the hunts. In any case, it matters little how much was shown – the evidence proved the Heythrop deliberately went out to hunt, arrogantly ignoring the rule of law. Had they pleaded guilty from the start instead of deliberately prevaricating, RSPCA costs would have been far lower.
Robin Rhoderick-Jones also claims hunts do their utmost to keep within the law and trail hunt. Not so, I'm afraid. There have been a number caught hunting illegally and as a judge observed, covering up its activities by 'cynical subterfuge'.
Additionally, if the CPS and the police were to do their jobs properly, many more incidents would be prosecuted. Some packs regularly hunt illegally with impunity because of the their lack of action and the RSPCA is merely doing what it has always done – prosecuting a case of cruelty to an animal.
Since the prosecution, a very spiteful and vicious campaign has been launched to discredit and smear the RSPCA by pro-hunters, pro-hunting MPs and members of the Countryside Alliance. It's a sad fact that hunters are being utterly selfish in protecting illegal hunts to the extent that some are expressing their desire to 'bring down' the RSPCA regardless of the entire good work this charity does.
ELLEN ROACH Canal Hill Tiverton