Paterson urges RSPCA to be 'wary' over campaigning activity

DEFRA Secretary Owen Paterson has warned the RSPCA to be ‘wary’ that its political campaigning activities do not compromise its charitable status.

The RSPCA is due to stage a joint demonstration with Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) tomorrow (Friday, Oct 12) at Defra’s London headquarters. It will call on the Department not to issue any more licences for live animal transport until all the legislation on journey times and port facilities is enforced.

This follows the suspension of live exports from Ramsgate and Ipswich, following an incident at the Kent port in September when RSPCA officials shot more than 40 sheep deemed unfit to travel, after vets inspected a lorry that brought 500 sheep from Northamptonshire.

RSPCA chief asked Gavin Grant has also angered farmers by calling on consumers to boycott milk unless retailers can differentiate between ‘badger friendly’ milk and milk that comes from the badger cull areas.

During a meeting at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday, a speaker from the floor suggested to Mr Paterson that the RSPCA had become ‘increasingly more radical and hard line against farmers’. He referred also to the way it enforces animal welfare rules on farms.

Responding, Mr Paterson said: “It is very important that those organisations which, under statute, are charities conduct themselves as charities. If they want to become political campaigning organisations, that may change the nature of their organisation. They have to be wary about that,” he said.

In the same meeting, Devon MP Neil Parish, who chairs an All-Party Parliamentary Group on animal welfare, said the RSPCA’s political stance on the badger cull ‘has damaged them’ because most people ‘want to see a healthy badger population alongside healthy cattle’.

Mr Parish, who is also a farmer, said: “We (farmers) are very often presented as the villains of the piece, which we are not. Is it is actually the job of the RSPCA to pick on which side of the argument they are? They need to be much more careful over this.”

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant has described suggestions, also made by NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond last week, that the RSPCA has stepped beyond its charitable status as ‘completely, simply factually incorrect’.

“It is very clear. As with all charities we have a responsibility to advocate in accordance with our charitable purposes. And that is precisely what we are doing,” he said.

Readers' comments (35)

  • if govements started looking after animls welfare animal charities would not have to keep looking out 4 the cruelty what goes on unlike u owen patterson who probaly only thinks of eating it dont threaten rspca 4 doing there job in safeguarding animal rights

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  • The RSPCA have made it clear to me on several occasions that searching for, locating and dispatching a sick and suffering badger with a close range head shot is legal. The reality is that we have a duty of care to put such an animal out of its misery, or take it to an animal sanctuary. Cowards ignore the plight of suffering animals, so Paterson is right.
    Search and dispatch of the sick, weak and injured is the central welfare requirement in best practice wildlife management, removed by the Labour Government, who were paid £1.1 million by the Animal Rights Industry in an attempt to ban best practice.
    As a consequence these organisations now promote cruelty and prevent kindness on a grand scale throughout the United Kingdom.
    The ISG under Sir John Bourne was neither scientific nor independent. He himself stated to the Cross Party Committee of MP's as follows:
    Professor John Bourne – Monday 18th June 2007 – Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60 - 79) – Minutes of Evidence.
    Professor John Bourne, chairman of the Independent Scientific Group stated that:
    "Let us go back to 1999 when we started our work. It was made very clear to us by ministers of the day - and they have not refuted it since - that elimination of badgers over large tracts of countryside was not an option for future policy".
    "It was on that basis that we designed the trial. We also had to take into account welfare considerations with respect to culling used, and limitations on culling with respect that cubs were not killed or died underground. Those were clear political limitations that we operated under; I have no reason to believe that those political limitations have changed".
    "We repeatedly say "culling, as conducted in the trial." It is important [that] we do say that. Those limitations were not imposed by ourselves. They were imposed by politicians."
    "Whatever has driven that I do not know but the fact is that a price has been put on the badger in this country which related to the way we were able to carry out our scientific work. That is exactly what we report".
    Not one person during the ten years of ISG Research has understood the behavior of the badger, including those self- appointed experts, who align themselves with the Animal Rights Industry.
    Old sick male and female badgers are driven out of the setts and tribal territory by the younger healthier badgers. These are the super-excreters, who are by far the principle cause of spreading this dreadful disease to farm livestock. TB has been endemic in the badger population for a very long time proven by research by MAFF in 1978, others in 1955 and Swiss research in 1927.
    Professor John Bourne lied in his opening statement at the first public meeting of his ISG team of twelve scientists after an expenditure of some £45 million, by saying: we have no evidence that badgers carry TB endemically. He had to be reminded by three people in his audience that this statement was untrue.
    The ISG committee sidelined all the previous important research available from what was the best State Veterinary Service in the World, who established before 1998 that 90% of cases of TB in cattle could be directly attributed to the badger as vector of the disease.
    The issue of greatest concern is that culling should concentrate on the sick and diseased badgers as was always the case under best management practice, which successfully contained the problem up to the Badger Protection Legislation.
    Shooting from a distance with a rifle at night is the suggested trial method, which unfortunately is not going to kill cleanly and will more likely target the healthy badgers. A fundamental requirement is that injured animals should be followed up and this is not going to happen. Lessons will be learned and with common sense from all sides of the debate, best practice selective methods can be restored immediately throughout the UK at minimal cost with maximum success in restoring, under control, healthy badger populations, and a thriving livestock industry.
    This massive unnecessary environmental and ecological catastrophe, especially the impact of an explosion in badger numbers (officially put at over 1 million) on a whole range of other very important species, will cost the taxpayer from the start of Protection legislation over £3 billion pounds.
    Just think how much could have been achieved for wildlife, if all sides had worked together with the best advice on hand from the ignored wildlife manager profession. The time has come to provide a wildlife and forest service that we can all be proud of, and bring justice to the misconduct in public office and deceit and fraud perpetuated by animal rights organisations. Wildlife should not be treated as a political football in a civilised world.
    British Wildlife Management..

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  • All I care about is animal welfare. All farmers care about is making money. There is no excuse for exporting live animals to suffer and die. None. If you can't make money whilst treating animals with compassion, go and stock shelves at Tesco.

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  • What has singularly not been mentioned is vaccination. If this can be carried out successfully in both badgers (as in Shropshire and Wales) and cattle, the threat of TB will diminish for both species. I completely fail to see why vaccination is acceptable in one part of the country, but destruction is ordered in another. Lets keep politicians and the so-called 'wildlife managers' at bay and allow common sense and modern technology to prevail.

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  • Mr. Paterson,

    I must, really, warn you of using such tactics of intimidation. You expect the RSPCA to back down for money reasons. An argument which, you, Sir, are all too familiar - aren't you? This is disgusting, but shows all too weell your twisted thinking: "if you continue to want money, then shut up". Whatever the RSPCA does in the end, let me assure you that people have been dealing with this live export issue that have never, in several decades, received a penny for their efforts, and cannot, therefore, be threatened by you. There is a level of idealism and dedication behind this that you cannot even begin to fathom. if these live exports resume from Ramsgate or wherever in the UK, they WILL be fought - tooth and nail, if must be. These animals deserve protection from such extreme abuse as documented time and time again with live export. Sadly, you do not share that view. if only once you would spend such a journey on the "Joline" in such a trailer, in bad weather - you would know perhaps what this means, and what you have no idea of at this moment.

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  • Live animal exports should be banned immediately. Owen Paterson is turning into a human disaster area. Get rid.
    I am already boycotting all cows milk and beef and I expect lots more to join me if the shooting starts. We need to know which farms are badger friendly so we as concsumers can make a informed choice on which ones to buy from. I support RSPCA 100% in this.

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  • "Let us go back to 1999 when we started our work. It was made very clear to us by ministers of the day - and they have not refuted it since - that elimination of badgers over large tracts of countryside was not an option for future policy".
    "It was on that basis that we designed the trial. We also had to take into account welfare considerations with respect to culling used, and limitations on culling with respect that cubs were not killed or died underground. Those were clear political limitations that we operated under; I have no reason to believe that those political limitations have changed".
    "We repeatedly say "culling, as conducted in the trial." It is important [that] we do say that. Those limitations were not imposed by ourselves. They were imposed by politicians."
    "Whatever has driven that I do not know but the fact is that a price has been put on the badger in this country which related to the way we were able to carry out our scientific work. That is exactly what we report".

    I would say, that was sound and ethical advice, and not something which detracts in any way from the validity of the trials. Animal welfare should be paramount, and the indiscriminate killing of badgers and their cubs, and local extermination of native British wildlife, for a potential tiny contribution in reduction in bTB in cattle, is exactly what the report finds at the end. Not an option for taking forwards as a meaningful contribution in reducing bTB outbreaks.

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  • No creature was made for us to eat, wear or use to entertain us! And to do to these innocent creatures what has already been done, but to turn around and do it again is nothing short of evil. Stop these exports and save these creatures from this evil!

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  • The Nasty party now has Mr Nasty as head of DEFRA. We need to oppose every single idea that this numbskull comes up with. Ban live animal exports and stop the badger cull.

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  • How about we remove the charitable status of public schools who definately don't act as charities and lets remove the subsidies to the landowners who aren't even pretending to produce food for the nation who seem to regard themselves as a charitable cause. Is this advice Mr Paterson or a pathetic attempt at a threat.

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