The prominent remain-supporting lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC has announced on Twitter that he clubbed a fox to death on Boxing Day morning, while wearing his wife’s satin kimono and nursing a hangover.
“Already this morning I have killed a fox with a baseball bat,” the barrister tweeted just after 8am. “How’s your Boxing Day going?”
Maugham, 48, whose Good Law Project has brought a number of legal challenges to Brexit, told followers that he had killed the animal after it became trapped while trying to get inside a hen house in his back garden in central London.
On a quiet Boxing Day morning, his account rapidly drew huge interest on Twitter, including the attention of the RSPCA, which urged anyone with first-hand knowledge of the incident to report it.
“[Killing the fox] wasn’t a great deal of fun,” Maugham tweeted. “It 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,” he said, elaborating in a separate tweet that he was wearing a “too small green kimono”.
“Chickens a little anxious but otherwise well,” he added, saying that he was now “nursing my hangover with a coffee. As was my original intention.”
Many of Maugham’s followers asking for more details of the incident and some suggested that he may have broken the law.
But the lawyer, who later apologised for his first tweet, was initially unrepentant. Asked why he had killed the fox rather than disentangling it and releasing it, he replied that the animals are “not especially friendly up close”.
“I didn’t especially enjoy killing it but I imagine that’s what the RSPCA would have done, if they had anyone on call in central London on Boxing Day,” Maugham tweeted.
He insisted he had “despatched him [the fox] efficiently”, adding in response to another tweet: “To be quite honest, although I don’t enjoy killing things, it does come with the territory if you’re a meat eater.”
“I shoot rabbits for food too; and butcher them. I think it’s quite important for anyone who eats meat to have a sense of what’s actually involved,” Maugham also tweeted.
After the RSPCA’s Twitter account was copied in to the discussion, the animal welfare charity, which investigates complaints of cruelty, tweeted: “This is distressing to hear. We’d urge anyone with firsthand knowledge to report it to us.”
An RSPCA spokesperson told the Guardian: “We’ve been made aware of this and are looking into it.”
Maugham said: “To those concerned I have broken the law, I called and spoke to the RSPCA and left my contact details.”
Maugham later tweeted that he was sorry to those upset by his initial post. “My chickens were very distressed by the fox – both before and after I’d despatched it – and I wanted it out of the way quickly,” he said.
“I was slightly shocked by the whole tooth-and-claw experience when I tweeted and that was what I was trying to convey. But my tweet, one of a number about keeping chickens in urban London, should have conveyed that better.”
He also said that he hoped his tweets would not obscure an ongoing investigation into the harm done by factory farming.