RSPCA threats bring charity into disrepute - FUW

THE Farmers Union of Wales has accused the Charity Commission of bringing the nature of charities into disrepute by failing to confront the RSPCA over its threats to farmers.

The claim comes in the same week as RSPCA chief executive, Gavin Grant, attracted fresh criticism for suggesting in a BBC Panorama documentary that the organisation would “name and shame” those involved in a badger cull in England.

Both Mr Grant and RSPCA vice-president, Brian May, have attracted harsh criticism over recent months following a string of threats against businesses in the English badger cull areas, and calls for a boycott of all UK milk if “badger-friendly” labelling did not appear on dairy products.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that these threats have brought the RSPCA into extreme disrepute among farmers and large numbers of the general public,”

FUW animal health and welfare committee chairman, Catherine Nakielny, said today (Monday, November 19).

“The RSPCA does extremely important and worthwhile work — but the increasing tendency towards extremist rhetoric and threats, which are tantamount to blackmail, undermines all that good work.”

Dr Nakielny said that the FUW had written to the Charity Commission repeatedly over the years regarding the RSPCA’s use of misleading campaigning and lurch towards extremism but that the commission seemed to have an “anything goes” policy.

“When an organisation becomes this radicalised and openly threatens an entire community then that not only brings the charity into disrepute but also undermines the very principles we all associate with charitable behaviour.

“It basically brings all registered charities and the body which governs them into disrepute,” she added.

In a recent letter, FUW president, Emyr Jones, told the commission that its “response to [previous concerns raised by the FUW] and similar complaints have done nothing but encourage the charity to act with impunity, and I am therefore writing to ask, once again, that the Commission take decisive action in relation to the RSPCA’s lobbying actions, which have now become extreme to the point of being both aggressive and threatening.”

Mr Jones was also harshly critical of the RSPCA chief executive’s recent claim in an interview with Farmers Guardian that the charity was “the oldest law enforcement agency still in existence in this country”, telling the commission that the comment seemed to epitomise the way in which the RSPCA regarded itself as some form of surrogate police force, rather than a body focused on charitable activities.

Dr Nakielny added:”The Charity Commission’s response to our president’s letter was typically benign towards the RSPCA’s recent aggression, to the point where you wonder whether any organisation which is not engaged directly in party political activities might qualify for charitable status, despite our traditional notion that a charity should serve the public good in a reputable way.

“For those thousands who feel intimidated by the RSPCA’s escalating threats, the actions of the charity are anything but charitable, yet the Charity Commissionseems happy to give such extremism its blessing.

“If the Charity Commission believes that it does not have the powers to effectively deal with such aggression then it should seek to extend its powers.”

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “At his own request the RSPCA’s new CEO Gavin Grant recently met with the CEO of the Charity Commission to set out his approach to leading the RSPCA.

“It was confirmed that these plans and recent activities were entirely in line with Charity Commission guidelines and appropriate to the RSPCA’s remit.”

A Charity Commission spokeswoman confirmed that it had received a ‘handful of complaints about the RSPCA in relation to the proposed badger cull’ and that it had met Mr Grant.

“We have given advice that the law on charities permits them to undertake campaigning and political activity in support of their charitable purpose, and that we believe the RSPCA’s involvement falls within the scope the law permits,” she said.  

Readers' comments (67)

  • good on the rspca i support them .farmers are just annoyed because they want to blame another spieces for there own disgusting practices that most probably cause tb in there cattle .greedy farmers

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  • good on the rspca .the objective here is animal welfare anyone that opposes that are criminals. the farmers union has no interest in animal welfare at all only profit typical farmers.

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  • The FUW and others need to stop throwing their rattles out of their prams. Public opinion is not on their side, full stop. Throwing a fit at the RSPCA looks desperate and will only make matters worse.

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  • What does the RSPCA plan to do about badgers with TB then?
    We already know they don't give a damn about livestock, otherwise they wouldn't have drowned sheep at Ramsgate.

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  • The RSPCA and indeed Dr. Brian May have gained a whole lot of support all over the country for their campaign against the misguided badger cull.

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  • It would be interesting to see how much support they got if they told the truth. They claim that using the vaccines would cure TB, when all research into the matter has shown this not to be the case.

    Badger culling does work to reduce TB in cattle, as long as it is done correctly. The RBCT final report makes recommendations on how the cull could be improved, and these are the measures which have been implemented in the current planned cull.

    The Thornbury badger clearance led to there being no TB in the area for 10 years, whereas previously it had been a hotspot.

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  • The RSPCA did not drown sheep at Ramsgate, you fool.
    That happened because of greedy, callous farmers insisting on exporting live animals, in poor conditions, in breach of animal welfare regulations, out of a port that is not equipped for that purpose - i.e. there is no adequate lairage for the animals that had to be unloaded because they were unfit to travel.
    AND the RSPCA are now being prevented from inspecting shipments of sheep leaving this port - which has been FORCED to continue exports against the expressed wishes of the council - another thing Gavin Grant has been quite vocal about. GOOD FOR HIM!!

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  • Anonymous | 19 November 2012 10:34 pm

    The RSPCA were *responsible* for offloading sheep in an area which you agree was unsafe, but obviously not their fault then that the sheep drowned?????

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  • Anonymous | 19 November 2012 10:34 pm - Had anybody else have unloaded them sheep, they would have been prosecuted by the RSPCA.

    Who do the RSPCA have to answer to? They seem to be able to break the rules which they seek to enforce, without consequences for their actions.

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  • The RSPCA are not above the law. [Farmers and animal rights campaigners are not above the law either and I have always said so on these pages.]

    If Grant openly supports illegal activities then he is bringing the RSPCA into disrepute.

    Naming and shaming is there for one purpose only, as an open invitation to extremists to attack those whose opinions he disagrees with and as a result, try and blackmail them, threaten them or intimidate them. This is against the law, however you look at it.

    As such Grant should resign immediately.

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