A Magistrate yesterday dismissed proceedings against the NSW President of the RSPCA, Peter Wright, alleging animal cruelty. Media reports indicate that a private citizen had initiated proceedings against Mr Wright.
PRIVATE PROSECUTIONS IN NSW
Any person in NSW can potentially bring a private prosecution against another for a criminal offence. Sections 14 and 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 provides for the commencement of private prosecutions. However there are some important restrictions.
In Mr Wright’s case, there was another important restriction. Under s.34AA of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979, proceedings for an offence under that Act can only be instituted by a person with the written consent of the Minister of the Director General. It appears here that the consent had not be given.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also has the authority to take over any prosecution of a criminal offence initiated by a person other than the DPP. Section 9 of the DPP Act. This means that, in certain circumstances, the DPP could potentially take over and then terminate vexatious or frivolous prosecutions initiated by an individual.