James Gray asks the High Court to
instruct the RSPCA to return the 29 animals to him immediately as per
Deputy District Judge Sandeep Kainth's ruling of 4th April 2008, rather
than wait untill Friday 18th April 2008.
The case this morning has been referred back to the district judge in Oxford as the High Court Judge didn’t feel he had jurisdiction to hear the case.
Today's hearing focused mainly on technicalities of law rather than the welfare of the animals.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams stated that he had to have regard to the proper legal procedures and so directed the Grays to instead address the matter back to the District Judge in Oxford Magistrates Court.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams acknowledged that the RSPCA has formally asked the Deputy District Judge Kainth to state his case and concluded: "by far the most appropriate person to enforce the order is the person who made the order."
The High Court hearing was a legal application made by James Gray of Spindle Farm, Hyde Heath, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, for the RSPCA to immediately return 29 animals that the Society and other welfare charities have been caring for since police seized them in January 2008.
Mr Gray's barrister, Philip Williams acting for Mr. Gray and his family, where 111 animals were seized, today demanded in the High Court that 29 Shetland ponies and donkeys be returned immediately.
Jamie Gray's legal representatives accused the RSPCA of deliberately defying a court order which last week said the animals should be returned.
The court was told that the RSPCA had not complied with an order made by Judge Sandeep Kainth in Oxford magistrates Court last Friday. District Judge Sandeep Kainth said the animals were never in any danger and ordered the animals be returned.
Mr Gray's legal team tried to get an injunction against the RSPCA requiring the animals be given back immediately - but the court refused.
However, Mr Justice Wyn Williams, said of the animals' return: "It has become the stance of the RSPCA, as I understand it, that they do not wish to do so".
The charity is planning a High Court appeal against the order made in Oxford on Friday 4th April and argues it should look after the animals until this is resolved. Mr Gray's barrister, Philip Williams, said the RSPCA were in willing breach of the order. It was simply wrong and a misinterpretation of the law'.
"We have very real concerns for the welfare of the donkeys, ponies and horses involved, and so have asked the District Judge to explain his decision," said the RSPCA's Chief Officer Tim Wass. "Meanwhile, we will continue to care for the animals and explore all available legal avenues in order to secure their future welfare."
Mr Williams also remarked on the enormous media attention the case has raised and said that the family's legal costs and bills were rising at an exorbitant rate.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams said that district judge Sandeep Kainth was in the best position to decide how his order should be enforced. The case should be re-listed before the District Judge as quickly as possible.
The animals that have not been ordered to return to Mr Gray will be sold at a farmers market in Warwickshire on 3 May 2008.
The RSPCA is pursuing a separate case against James Gray, Julie Gray, Cordelia Gray, Jodie Gray, all of Spindles Farm, Hyde Heath, and a youth who cannot be named, over alleged mistreatment of animals at the farm.
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