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Jo Maugham, prominent UK lawyer went viral after killing fox with bat

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  • A prominent British lawyer found himself the subject of an unexpected Christmas controversy on Thursday after tweeting that he had killed a fox with a bat.
  • Jolyon Maugham, who is known in the UK for spearheading numerous legal challenges against Britain leaving the EU, tweeted at 8.10 a.m. local time Thursday that he had “killed a fox with a baseball bat.”
  • Twitter users were quick to accuse Maugham of animal cruelty and call for an investigation by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
  • Maugham later tweeted that he referred himself to the RSPCA, while the organization itself said it was “investigating” the matter.
  • News of Maugham’s vulpine assault made newspaper front pages on a slow news day in the UK. The country’s second-largest paper, the Daily Mail, splashed on the headline “FURY AT LAWYER WHO BEAT FOX TO DEATH.”
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A prominent British lawyer found himself the subject of an unexpected Christmas controversy on Thursday after tweeting that he had killed a fox with a baseball bat.

Jolyon Maugham, who is known in the UK for spearheading numerous legal challenges against Britain leaving the EU, tweeted at 8.10 a.m. local time Thursday that he had “killed a fox with a baseball bat.”

He then went on to ask followers “How’s your Boxing Day going?” Boxing Day is the traditional British term for the day after Christmas, which is a national holiday in the UK.

The tweet from Maugham, who has close to 180,000 followers, sparked immediate outrage on the site, with many users — understandably — seeking context as to why Maugham had beaten a fox to death with a bat. 

Maugham later clarified that he had killed the fox as it had broken into his London back yard and was attacking his chickens. He added that he had done so wearing a satin kimono belonging to his wife.

Twitter users were quick to accuse Maugham of animal cruelty and call for an investigation by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

The RSPCA confirmed Thursday night that it would carry out an investigation, tweeting: “We’re aware of a situation regarding a fox, and would like to reassure people that we’re investigating.”

“Due to a very high volume of tweets, unfortunately we can’t respond to every single one, and are unable to provide further comment right now. Thank you for your understanding.”

Maugham himself earlier said that he had contacted the RSPCA to see if he had broken the law by clubbing the fox to death.

 

News of Maugham’s fox killing spread quickly, and given the dearth of stories in the UK during the festive period, made the front pages of several of the country’s biggest newspapers.

The Daily Mail, which has the second-largest readership of any British paper, gave Maugham’s vulpine attack top billing, splashing its front page with the headline “FURY AT LAWYER WHO BEAT FOX TO DEATH.” The news also made the front pages of the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph.

The Telegraph’s treatment of the story was particularly curious. Its unrelated lead photo was of a cute kid at a British countryside ritual, the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt (many of which are now illegal). Its editors ran the Maugham story under that. Twitter user Alex von Tunzelmann had a terse explanation of the contradiction here.

 

While many were outraged at Maugham’s conduct, he had his defenders. Neil Coyle, a member of Parliament in London noted that in Southwark, the borough where he is an MP, killing a fox by clubbing is legally permissible on the grounds that foxes are considered pests.

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