The RSPCA at work
The RSPCA has been accused of harassing a police officer after he killed an injured cat with a spade.
A prosecution estimated to have cost a total of £50,000 lasted two years before failing in the High Court.
In April 2004, Pc Bell was called out to an estate in Stoke-on-Trent following reports of youths throwing stones at passing cars.
While there local residents called his attention to a cat which had been run over.
The 36-year-old officer sought advice from his control room and colleagues including a police handler.
He borrowed a spade and with three to four blows killed the cat.
An independent expert witness called to give evidence in the trial said the officer had been in a no-win situation.
"The cat had been squashed to within an inch thick at its lower half," said veterinary surgeon Colin Vogel.
"He did the kindest thing which was to put it out of its misery whereas if he'd just walked away leaving it injured he could have just as easily faced a charge of animal cruelty."
The estimated £50,000 total cost of the case, which includes £12,000 spent by the RSPCA on its own legal costs, will lead to accusations that it has wasted large amounts of voluntary donations and public money.
One has a moral duty to an injured animal which this PC seems to have taken responsibly and done the right thing - what the RSPCA was thinking in hounding him I cannot fathom.