Tuesday, 23 March 2010




de Brauwere

It concerned Martin and Gina’s 24 year old laminitic horse Florrie, which had been a family pet for two


The case, as usual for the RSPCA, was a private prosecution for ‘cruelty’:

1) accompanied by the RSPCA’s traditional PR techniques, and spinning to local and national media;

2) presented to the court over a number of days, at great expense (to both the taxpayer and the

RSPCA’s hapless subscribers) and inconvenience to other court-users;

3) brought by the RSPCA’s unaccountable Prosecutions Department, led by barrister Sally Case,

against defendants (in this case a council worker and a salesperson) of impeccable character; and

4) where the Defendants own vet - with whom the RSPCA ‘expert’ disagreed – was advising them.

The RSPCA’s ‘expert’ in this case was Nic de Brauwere. Rather worryingly for the RSPCA, in the light of

the court’s findings against it, Mr de Brauwere is the vet in the RSPCA’s recent high-profile seizures in

Amersham. Mr de Brauwere is in charge of welfare at ‘Redwings’, the rescue centre which the RSPCA

pays to stable many of its ‘rescued’ horses. The Griffins vainly tried to tell de Brauwere that they knew the

horse was thin and that they had to keep its weight down to avoid an acute recurrence of the long-standing

laminitis. This is not only good equine practice – it followed the excellent advice obtained from their

horse’s vet, Charlotte Mayers, who knew all about the horse, but with whom it seems that de Brauwere


So, the RSPCA’s ‘Inspector’ John Jenkins and Mr de Brauwere thought they knew better than the Griffins’

own vet. The horse was seized from the Griffins’ field where all the other animals, everyone agreed, were

in superb condition. Three ‘cruelty’ charges eventually emerged. The animal was taken to a “place of

safety” - de Brauwere’s facility - and his clients, the RSPCA, blindly pressed on with its case. They were

undeterred by the report of Colin Vogel, the country’s pre-eminent equine specialist (who incidentally

writes the RSPCA’s own “Horse-Care Manual”). Mr Vogel was called as an expert by the defence.

Judge Philip Browning, who is not known as a firebrand, made the following findings:

(1) “Mr Vogel is a pre-eminent authority on horses who heard the evidence in the case. In his opinion,

the horse was not suffering; he said that he had heard no evidence that the horse could not eat, no

evidence that it was hungry and he said that he had heard reasonable evidence that there was a

reason to keep the animal thin.”

(2) “It seems pretty clear that Inspector Jenkins had made his mind up [to seize the animal] and that

he was unlikely to have agreed that the horse could be treated as offered by Miss Mayers, a course

which would, in my opinion have avoided all of this”

(3) “Mr de Brauwere was not minded to discuss alternative causes of the thinness with Mrs Griffin and

agreed that Mrs Griffin was offering other causes - he did, to use his words, not want to enter a

long debate and did walk away at one point.”

(4) “I go further than saying that there is doubt - I find that the horse was not suffering at all at the

time it was seized. I do not need to go on to consider causing or permitting, but I will say that

nothing I have heard in this case casts any criticism of Mr and Mrs Griffin.”

(5) “I fully understand the reaction of Mrs Griffin in a situation where she is faced with the sudden

removal of Florrie, a much loved virtual member of the family.”

(6) “Mr de Brauwere was challenged in a number of respects by Miss Mayers and Mr Stanley as well

as by the Griffins themselves. On the 2nd October, other than being thin, agreed by everyone, the

horse was apparently healthy, alert and happy as far as one can judge these things. It is significant

that the other horses were in good condition … I cannot accept the inferences I am asked to draw

by the prosecution from the thinness of the horse and state of her teeth. I consider that she was

able to eat and although she appeared to be getting thinner, her demeanour and general condition on

the 2nd October at the very least would create strong reservations about whether she was

suffering. There is no explicit evidence to that effect.”

(7) “I recognise the emotional aspect of this case and the feelings of the whole family on her removal.

For reasons which will become apparent, I am of the view that this case could have been dealt

with in a better way, and certainly more sympathetically by Inspector Jenkins and the RSPCA.”

The SHG speculates that the RSPCA might have brought the case to highlight the 10th anniversary of the

damning report from BEVA (the British Equine Veterinary Association). BEVA’s concerns – one of many

criticisms by specialist vets. Is it possible that Sally Case, the Barrister in charge of the RSPCA’s

Prosecutions Department, and her team of highly-paid support staff and “out-house” lawyers, wanted to

emphasise the correctness of BEVA’s report?

1) “Some BEVA Council Members have voiced concern that the Society has appeared to prosecute

cases more in order to generate publicity and gain ‘scalps’ than out of genuine concern for equine


2) “In most cases, equine welfare cases do not present as an emergency; the cases usually involve

[alleged] neglect or malnutrition, which is by nature not acute … Recent cases have highlighted the

failure of some vets to perform full, or competent examinations, which are necessary to support the

decision to seize animals, or prosecute owners.”

Ten years ago, the BEVA report was hastened by specialist equine vets who were concerned that the

RSPCA was damaging the profession. The criticisms in RSPCA v Humphries are quite well summarised

by BEVA, and every one of these points could be made of the RSPCA again today. The RSPCA has

learned nothing in ten years, other than better ways of causing expense, distress and misery for ordinary

decent people, like the Griffins, who look after animals properly. It has also “generated publicity” recently!

The Self-Help Group (“SHG”) was formed to, and does, help people like the Grffins. SHG’s Anne Kasica


“Like BEVA ten years ago, the public have had enough. The Griffins’ case shows the RSPCA does

not want to learn a thing from BEVA. It wants money to keep its leviathan prosecutions running.

The public, and the judiciary, are turning their backs on an RSPCA which is increasingly desperate

to justify and promote its sinister and unattractive agenda. It is not just the RSPCA’s most obvious

victims - like the Griffins, the people in the Harwich and Portsmouth cases , and the many others

referred to on SHG’s website - who see the RSPCA for what it is.”

Ernest Vine, also from the SHG said:

“The reporting of the recent cases shows that even the media now recognise the public don’t like

the RSPCA’s animal rights ‘take and spin’ approach. The actual results, and serious

consequences, of the RSPCA’s ridiculous cases have been escaping into the public domain. The

truth sells papers better than printing the RSPCA’s press releases, which furiously spin against

honest and decent defendants like the Griffins. The RSPCA want more donations from people to

run more cases like this. We want to save the RSPCA from animal rights extremists and its own

lawyers, who are regularly paid ten times more than defence teams. I sincerely hope the result of

the Griffins’ case will be reported with the same alacrity and prominence that the RSPCA’s

preposterous allegations against them were given. Long may judges like Gray and Browning, and

brave magistrates, like those in Portsmouth, continue to hear the cases fairly, objectively and also

without fear.”

Name Withheld ** Names removed to protect individuals who have been the subject of animal rights

harassment. Can be supplied but only to bona fide journalists.


Anonymous said...

Amazing case - I was prosecuted by the RSPCA, but successfully appealed and there was a finding that their vet was lying. This type of experience is becoming more and more common - the RSPCA is at least as bent as the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, but they seem to have friends in every Magistrates Court.

Anonymous said...

I also faced a 'constructed' prosecution by these fanatics and know first hand that the courts are 'on their side'.

Brian C said...

Several years ago I was the owner of a Doberman called Squire, he had a disorder that meant he was unable to properly digest protein, we had to put him on a special diet, bolied rice and a high protein canned food only available from the vets, despit this he kept losing weight, the rspca KEPT having complaints presumably from a neighbour that Squire was being mistreated, they called constantly, despite being given the facts, one one occassion we got the stroppiest RSPCA Inspector from hell, full of her own self importance and arrogance, she decidedthat we were mistreating Squire and instigated a prosecution aginst us, they won, we went to hell and back, had our house and car vandlised, Squire was seized and destroyed (despite the fact they said we neglected him, they decided he couldnt be treated).
The RSPCA lied in Court, didnt acknowledge that for over 9 months they were happy with the treatment, their vet was paid to lie, and really stitched us up, our own vet wouldnt give evidence against the RSPCA because they were one of his giggest Clients, and he said it would be bad for business, our own Solicitor advised us to plead guilty!
This type of situation is happening every day, my Wife died a few years ago, she never really got over what happened to us, the RSPCA must have their prosecution powers removed, this is a great site, it lets you vent your frustrations, keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid that Redwings is as cynical and bullying as the RSPCA, they work together to generate media coverage and therefore income. This is nothing new as far as I can tell, you may well find that these individuals within charities such as Redwings enjoy an extremely lucrative salary and expenses that MP's would be envious of. I am surprised that the Redwings veterinarian, De Brauwere has not been reported to his professional body, as he clearly should be. The RSPCA do not seem keen to state that it is very often the Redwings vet that sanctions the siezure of equines on their behalf, economical with information is often suspicious, but in these self serving instances not suprising. All very sad for those decent folks who continue to support these charities who's agendas are questionable.