Friday, 19 February 2010


The RSPCA is highly litigious and likes to reward its in-house and out-house lawyers very well for the loyalty which the charity demands. However, even the charity's lazy trustees, who are usually preoccupied with politics, are beginning to ask questions about what happened last week. Two RSPCA High Court cases came to a conclusion - RSPCA v Gill and RSPCA v Mason.

In both matters, its unsupervised, greedy - and uselessly vicious - lawyers got a massive kicking from the High Court bench. In addition to the two huge orders for costs - one of which is on the indemnity basis and the other totals well over £1m - the RSPCA will also have to pays the costs of its own lawyers. That's an awful lot of money - especially now that donations are drying up and the charity's income is in free-fall. Apparently there are not so many sad, ill-informed, pensioners who are prepared to give hundreds of thousands of pounds to the RSPCA in the forlorn hope that the charity will look after their cats and dogs when they die - rather than apply the captive bolt.
In RSPCA v Mason & Others, Mr Justice Peter Smith made an order for indemnity costs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds against the charity to reflect his displeasure at the unreasonable behaviour of the charity (or more precisely its out-of-control £400 an hour lawyers). The RSPCA, through its lawyers, had acted unreasonably in launching "hopeless" litigation against a 85 year old man, and two others in their seventies, which stood no chance of success. After the litigation, the RSPCA was branded "disgusting" by probate specialist Clare Kelly from London lawyers Anthony Gold who acted for 85 year old Mr Mason - who the RSPCA sought to deprive of all but £20,000 of his brother's £1m estate.
In RSPCA v Gill & Others, Deputy High Court Judge James Allen QC made an order that the RSPCA should pay £1.3 million pounds in costs. Again, the judge was highly critical of the RSPCA's refusal to accept Dr Gill's offers to settle, her offers to engage in mediation and engage in reasonable settlement dialogue. The charity's laweysrs had offered Dr Gill just £50,000 of her parents' £2m estate - no doubt they wanted the bulk of the estate to pursue other hopeless litigation with. The case saw Dr Gill's own lawyer, Mark Keenan, have to defend the conduct of his own firm against a web of false allegations spun by the RSPCA's infamous PR Department.

Complaint to the Charities Commission (prop. "Baroness" Suzy Leather) anyone?


Queenie said...

Some idiot on a newspaper comment section is trying to tell me that the RSPCA refer all cases to the CPS to prosecute, a total and blatent lie!! Why would the rspca bring private prosecutions using public donations if the CPS dealt with it all? In any case, I very much doubt that the CPS would have passed these two cases through court because they were weak in respect of the rspca winning and would have been a waste of public money.

Queenie said...

Several of us have had ongoing dialogue with the Charity Commission, to no avail, since their stance is that donated money to the RSPCA is for people, not animals!!
They have also denied any connection between Dame Suzy Leather, head of the CC, and Lou Leather, Vice President of the RSPCA. Odd given that the name Leather is not exactly as common as Smith or Jones!

Anonymous said...

Dame Leather is no longer head of the CC. The new head of the commission has so far also not expressed any dissatisfaction with the RSPCAs activities, and his name is not Leather.

What is more relevant is that govt interest in quizzing their activities should come at a time when the RSPCA have recently had success in prosecuting members of the prime ministers local hunt group for hunting illegally. Especially given that some of the most vocal criticism has come from mp Simon Hart, former CEO of the Countryside Alliance. Of course it could just be coincidence. ..