Members of Prime Minister David Cameron’s 188 year-old local Oxfordshire hunt have been hit with fines for hunting foxes illegally.
Two members of David Cameron’s local hunt have been convicted of hunting foxes illegally.
Richard Sumner, 68, and 49 year-old Julian Barnfield, both pleaded guilty at Oxford magistrates’ court to four charges of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs.
The Heythrop Hunt Limited also pleaded guilty to the same charges of intentionally hunting a fox with dogs on land in the Cotswolds.
Barnfield, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was fined a total of £1,000, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000. Sumner, of Salperton, Gloucestershire, was fined £1,800 with costs of £2,500, while The Heythrop Hunt Limited was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.
The case was bought by the RSPCA after it was handed secret footage gathered by anti-hunt monitors over four days during the 2011/12 season. The footage was later played in court.
It later emerged that the RSPCA’s costs in prosecuting the case were in excess of £300,000, a figure described as “staggering” by the presiding magistrate.
Following the verdict, however, RSPCA chief executive, Gavin Grant claimed bringing the prosecution was the right thing to do.
He said: “These defendants were well aware that they were breaking the law in that their actions would lead to a fox being torn apart by dogs.
“No doubt the hunt will say that those involved have now left [the hunt] and it had no knowledge of this crime,” he added. “The truth is this hunt believed it was above the law – it was wrong.”
The anti-hunt monitors who shot the footage thanked the RSPCA for having the “foresight and courage to take on the prosecution”.