Owner of dog that mauled Freddie the seal Rebecca Sabben-Clare is an Oxford-educated lawyer

THE owner of the dog that mauled Freddie the seal is an Oxford-educated lawyer.

Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC, 49, tried to pull the dog away as it attacked Freddie by Hammersmith Bridge in west London on Sunday.




Shocking pictures showed the cross-bred latched on to the seal’s flipper as walkers and cyclists, including a vet, rushed to his aid.

Freddie the seal, named after Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, was put down on Monday a day after the lunchtime attack.

He earned the affectionate nickname after entertaining walkers on the bank of the Thames for weeks.

SEAL SAVAGED

The Met Police confirmed on Tuesday they are investigating the death and looking to speak to the dog's owner.

However, The Sun understands the RSPCA and police have since told Ms Sabben-Clare no offence was committed.

Ms Sabben-Clare studied at New College Oxford and was named a leading English silk in the 2021 Legal 500 Directory. 

She is now a specialist in commercial law who is described as "incredibly bright" and "very talented".




An RSPCA spokesman said: "What happened to Freddie the seal is heartbreaking.

"Dog owners should act responsibly and keep their pets on leads around wild animals to ensure incidents like this are prevented – it is never ok to allow dogs to harass and attack a wild animal.

"We understand how upsetting this incident was for anyone who witnessed it and we hope we can spread the message encouraging dog-owners to keep their dog on a lead if wildlife is around."

The owner of a dog who attacks farm animals can be fined up to £1,000, rising to £2,500 if the offence is deliberate. 

Similar fines apply to attacks on wild animals – but offences related to hunting can see penalties of up to £5,000 imposed. 

Meanwhile Brits took to Twitter to pay tribute to Freddie following his death. 

The law on dog attacks

It is against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control, and owners could get an unlimited fine or be jailed for up to six months.

  • Owners must not allow their dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place, a private place (such as a garden or neighbour's house) or in the owner's home.
  • A dog is considered seriously out of control if it injures someone or makes them worried that they could be injured.
  • A court may decide a dog is out of control if it attacks someone's animal.

Josh Fraser wrote: “RIP #freddietheseal people who own dogs that attack people/wildlife should be banned from owning pets for life, first a dear in Richmond park, now a poor seal in Hammersmith, when will it stop?

"When a child dies? Will they just fine the owner and move on? This needs to be fixed.”

Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former director of communications, wrote: "So sad to hear that the beautiful seal that took up residence near Hammersmith Bridge had to be put down after being savaged by a dog.

"There were signs up asking dog walkers to keep them on leads." 

British Divers Marine Life Rescue confirmed last night: "We are all devastated at the loss of ‘Freddie’ today.

"So many people tried to help him but his injuries were too severe.

"Marine mammal experts were consulted but all ended with the same conclusion, he was put to sleep late this afternoon."

A photographer who was taking pictures of Freddie when the attack happened said it was “vicious”.

Duncan Phillips, 55, told MyLondon: “The dog just wouldn't let go.

"It wouldn't let go despite repeated attempts by members of the public to separate the animals.”

The vet who came to the seal's aid was bitten three times by terrified Freddie while trying to hold him.

A male cyclist was “headbutted” by the seal as he tried to hold him still.


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