Fox-killing lawyer Jolyon Maugham will not be charged, says RSPCA

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Jolyon MaughamImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jolyon Maugham has brought a number of legal challenges related to Brexit

A prominent lawyer who said he killed a fox with a baseball bat will not face charges, the RSPCA has said.

Jolyon Maugham was criticised for the tone of his tweets about the incident, on 26 December 2019. He later apologised if he had "upset" anyone.

The RSPCA said there was no realistic prospect of Mr Maugham being convicted if it brought charges against him.

The animal welfare charity added a forensic assessment found the fox had been "killed swiftly".

On Boxing Day, Mr Maugham, who has brought a number of legal challenges related to Brexit, tweeted: "Already this morning I have killed a fox with a baseball bat. How's your Boxing Day going?"

He claimed he had not been sure "what else to do" after finding the fox caught up in netting surrounding his family's chickens at his central London home.

'Profoundly sorry'

Government guidelines state a fox must be killed "humanely" if it is caught in a trap or snare on a person's property.

You can be jailed and fined up to £20,000 for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Mr Maugham said he "welcomed" the RSPCA's decision not to bring charges against him and said there was "competing" advice on how to act in such situations.

"I know that some were genuinely upset by my actions on Boxing Day and the tone of my tweets," he said in a statement.

"I am profoundly sorry for that upset."

Skip twitter post by Jo Maugham QC

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End of twitter post by Jo Maugham QC

He said he had hoped to convey the "incongruity" of his morning "in a gently self-deprecating manner" but added: "I got that wrong."

Mr Maugham, who founded the Good Law Project, said he had to act quickly to "save the chickens" and therefore had no time "to reflect on the competing ethical approaches of the RSPCA and Natural England".

He said he "respected" that others may have acted differently.

The RSPCA said in a statement: "An independent post-mortem and forensic veterinary assessment of the fox's body was carried out and 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."