The RSPCA will not bring charges against prominent lawyer Jolyon Maugham, who claimed to have killed a fox with a baseball bat on Boxing Day last year.
The charity said although they do not condone the killing of healthy foxes, there was no realistic prospect of conviction in the case.
Mr Maugham, founder of the Good Law Project, said on Twitter last year: “Already this morning I have killed a fox with a baseball bat. How’s your Boxing Day going?”
Already this morning I have killed a fox with a baseball bat. How's your Boxing Day going?— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) December 26, 2019
He claimed the fox had got caught up in the protective netting around his chickens and he “wasn’t sure what else to do”.
Mr Maugham later apologised on Twitter.
In a statement, the RSPCA said: “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.”
Wasn't a great deal of fun. Got caught up in the protective netting around the chickens and I wasn't sure what else to do. Not looking forward to untangling it...— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) December 26, 2019
It is not illegal to kill a fox, but Government guidelines state that if a fox is caught in a trap or snare on a person’s property, they must be “humanely” killed.
Mr Maugham said he “welcomed” the decision.
He said: “I note what the RSPCA says about killing a fox. Their advice differs from the Government’s advice to householders which says one “must” — in other words, you have no choice but to — humanely kill any fox caught on your property and that you “shouldn’t release captured foxes”.
“I know that some were genuinely upset by my actions on Boxing Day and the tone of my tweets. I am profoundly sorry for that upset.
“It was my intention to convey in a gently self-deprecating manner the incongruity of my Boxing Day morning. I got that wrong.
“As to my actions, in the situation in which I found myself — needing to act in great haste to save the chickens my family keeps — I did not have the luxury of time to reflect on the competing ethical approaches of the RSPCA and Natural England.
“Of course, I respect the different assessments others might, equally reasonably, have made.”