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Fox baseball bat QC avoids prosecution

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RSPCA says that ‘findings indicate the fox was killed swiftly’ by Jolyon Maugham

Jolyon Maugham QC will not be prosecuted for clubbing a fox to death on Boxing Day, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has announced.

The charity said today that following a “thorough investigation” involving multiple experts, its prosecution department had decided that “the evidential threshold needed to take a prosecution… was not met under any legislation relating to animals or wildlife”.

Maugham, a high-profile tax silk turned anti-Brexit campaigner, shocked his many admirers on 26 December with the admission that he had “killed a fox with a baseball bat” while hung-over and wearing his wife’s kimono.

The RSPCA said at the time that it was aware of the matter and was investigating.

The animal welfare charity has now released a statement saying that, while it does not “condone the killing of healthy foxes”, it would not be launching a prosecution.

Under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, it must be proven that there was intent to cause unnecessary suffering for an offence to be committed.

The charity said:

“We conducted a thorough investigation, engaged independent experts, a veterinary pathologist and a forensic vet, and the prosecution department have carefully reviewed their findings. An independent post mortem and forensic veterinary assessment of the fox’s body was carried out and the findings indicate the fox was killed swiftly. Therefore, in this case, the prosecutions department determined that the evidential threshold needed to take a prosecution under the CPS code was not met under any legislation relating to animals or wildlife.”

But it added that “when a fox is tangled in fencing, it should be humanely freed wherever possible and RSPCA staff and other organisations do this regularly. The RSPCA or local authorities can provide information and advice to anyone on how to live alongside urban foxes”.

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The Devereux Chambers barrister had abandoned Twitter — on which he has 177,000 followers — after a deluge of criticism over the fox incident.

But he returned on 3 March to promote a new case against the government, tweeting that “much of what I need to do I can only do here”.

The campaigning silk wrote last month that “I receive an unfathomable amount of public abuse”, including frequent death threats. He added that “my chambers has had to take extra security measures, and I receive periodic packages from my professional regulator of bulk complaints made by those who oppose the work I do”.

Today Maugham issued this statement on Twitter:

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