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Has the RSPCA become a different species?

31 January 2013

Is the RSPCA morphing from animal welfare charity into an animal rights group? In this week’s Spectator, Melissa Kite writes that following the charity’s successful prosecution of the Heythrop hunt, its chief executive Gavin Grant now has his sights set on the racing industry:

Buoyed by the success of his prosecution of the Heythrop hunt, I am reliably informed, he has set his sights on the racing industry next. ‘His modus operandi for these big campaigns is to target high-profile events and people,’ a well-placed veterinary expert told me. ‘So you won’t see him having a go at Badminton, where horses also get injured, because it’s not a household event. He will go for the Grand National because the entire country watches it.’

He added: ‘No one dare speak out against him. There is a culture of fear at their headquarters. He’s very evasive on TV and people who know him say he’s convinced he’s right.’

Kite writes that Grant’s shift in focus is causing panic in the racing industry. She contrasts the charity’s high profile legal actions with the struggle faced by its local branches to answer emergency call-outs to cases of neglect.

The RSPCA has given the Spectator a full response to Kite’s piece, which you can read here. The charity argues that it is incorrect to say the RSPCA is acting beyond its charitable status:

‘To suggest that the RSPCA is acting beyond its charitable status by campaigning on animal welfare issues is simply, factually, incorrect .

‘As with all charities, we have responsibility to advocate in accordance with our charitable purposes and that is, precisely, what we are doing.

‘It is no coincidence that recent attacks on the RSPCA and our chief executive Gavin Grant follow our successful criminal prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt. Those behind these attacks such as Simon Hart MP are supporters of the Countryside Alliance who want to see a return to bloodsports and a repeal of the Hunting Act.’

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The statement also addresses the Grand National.

But the RSCPA also finds a defender in the pages of this week’s magazine in the form of Rod Liddle, who argues that the charity is simply upholding the law of the land: a job he wishes the police were better at doing:

‘I have to say, I find the gibbering from Tory MPs highly amusing and I hope the RSPCA takes not the slightest notice of it. Sir Edward Garnier, for example, thinks it wrong that the RSPCA is ‘using the weapon of state prosecution for political causes’. No, Ed — it is using the weapon of state prosecution to uphold the law. We will be getting ourselves into all sorts of trouble if we start to carp about laws which we believe were brought in for ‘political’ reasons and those which are simply there to stop the poor nicking stuff. The Hunting with Hounds legislation was not motivated by political or social spite; as I said at the time, the fact that a goodly proportion of those who engaged in such a pursuit were braying high-born halfwits was simply a bonus. The reason it was brought in is that the overwhelming majority of the country’s population, and a very large majority of MPs in the House of Commons, were repelled by the utter savagery and cruelty of this supposed sport.’

Liddle also has some advice for readers who disagree with him about his last assertions on the hunting law. You can read his full piece here.

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Show comments
  • Fergus Pickering

    If you don’t like them (and I don’t) then don’t give them your money. Give money to SMALL charities whose bosses have not grown bloated and greedy for power and money

  • James S

    What would it take to get the “Royal” removed from their name. That should strike the fear of god into them. Better than removing their charitable status, it would tell everyone they are just another campaigning special interest.

    • telemachus

      Why is it the NSPCC
      And the RSPCA

      • David Lindsay

        Because both the British in general, and the Royal Family in particular, famously prefer animals to children.

        But as for the NSPCC…

        • Fergus Pickering

          Oh God, that tired old thing about animal lovers being people haters. If you had a cat, Lindsay, you would be a better person. Or even a guinea pig.

          • David Lindsay

            I certainly would not be a guinea pig.

  • Troika21

    Liddle is farcically wrong if he thinks the anti-hunt legislation was not political.

    It was because the perception of hunt organisers were “braying high-born halfwits“, not to mention mostly based in Tory-voting shires, that it was enacted.

    • David Lindsay

      It was how disgraceful Labour MPs were cajoled into supporting the Iraq War by Tony Blair and Hilary Armstrong, both of whom went on to vote against the hunting ban.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well of course it was I don’t much like these people either but when galloping after foxes they are surely relatively harmless. Fox-hunting is less harmful to the general weal than football, for the Lord’s sake. Millwall FC should surely be abolished forthwith. I mean to say.

  • Reconstruct

    Gavin Grant is a self-described ‘lifelong Liberal Democrat’ (impossible, of course) with a career in PR who came to prominence during the Blair/Brown years. What good can possibly be expected of him?

    • telemachus

      He pushed Clegg for leader
      That is all we need to know

    • David Lindsay

      He might have been born after 1988. That was 25 years ago now.

  • Daniel Maris

    This Spectator campaign is very misguided.

    The RSPCA has always been an animal rights group, from the first – when it succeeded in getting animals’ rights not to be mistreated enshrined in law. Prior to that an owner could whip a horse to death if he pleased, just as in ancient times, a Roman patriarch had the legal right to kill a slave or a child of his.

    • Colonel Mustard

      There is a growing trend of insisting on the acceptance of stupid law, most of it churned out from 1997-2010 precisely from a political and ideological imperative. The “rule of law” has been trotted out accordingly to suit. I note UAF don’t pay much attention to the rule of law when they are violently disrupting protests or events that they disagree with.

      But of more concern there is a growing trend in the stupid enforcement of law for the purposes of advancing or promoting political causes. Liddle’s pronouncement that “We will be getting ourselves into all sorts of trouble if we start to carp about laws which we believe were brought in for ‘political’ reasons and those which are simply there to stop the poor nicking stuff.” is self evident. The trouble is because those laws now exist and are being partially enforced as part of a political agenda.

      No, what is going on here is a continuance of the leftist morality play that the rules only apply to those they disagree with and that when they are in protest themselves anything goes. It lies behind everything from Levison to the RSPCA and is about power. Grant is clearly something of a meglomaniac and zealot. Such people in high office are always a menace to reason.

      • SimonToo

        Bad law should be repealed. Merely blocking people from enforcing bad law is just corruption, and corrupting badness does not produce goodness.

        • Colonel Mustard

          So what is prioritising the enforcement of bad law, as Starmer does, if not corruption?

    • telemachus

      There are folks in the coalition that still behave like Roman Patriarchs
      From Thrasher down

    • milliboot

      Nobody is advocating whipping horses to death, but objecting to thousands of pounds of charity donations being wasted by the RSPCA.Why did they not let the law deal with these infringements of the hunting law ? i wont ever donate to them again.

  • Colonel Mustard

    I do hope telemachus has given you permission for that image of his gross mischaracterisation of me…

    • telemachus

      Just because you have laid your shotgun down ….
      Roots cannot be denied

      • Colonel Mustard

        The last weapon I laid down was not a shotgun and I have not picked one up since.

        • telemachus

          But not laid down your tongue

          • Colonel Mustard

            The pen is mightier than the sword but I venture that I post less comments here than you do. I am just commenting whilst you are trying to control what is being said. Then there is the matter of quality.

            • telemachus

              Absolutely agree
              But agree on the quality of the message
              A message that is elitist has no place in our modern democracy

              • Colonel Mustard

                You deal in messages on behalf of your comrades in the leftist collective. I deal in personal viewpoints. To suggest that some viewpoints have no place in our modern democracy evidences your authoritarian and censorious tendencies, as well as the hypocrisy of your boasts to embrace ands celebrate diversity.

                And if that were not enough, if you really believe that elitist messages have no place in our modern democracy then you would be hostile towards the EU not promoting it as well as more questioning of the elite running the party you advocate. The rise of the political elite began under New Labour.

              • SimonToo

                “A message that is elitist has no place in our modern democracy”. What a disgraceful insistence on all expression conforming to group opinion ! Release yourself – you do NOT need permission to think for yourself.

              • Fergus Pickering

                What do you mean by elitist, Tele? Is the statement ‘Many of the uneducated are scumbags’ elitist? I humbly ask for information.

            • Chris Morriss

              ‘FEWER’ comments Colonel not ‘less’, please. And here I was thinking you were educated.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Eh? 😉

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh don’t worry, Colonel. Nobody believes a word he says.

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