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Has the RSPCA become a different species?

31 January 2013

12:28 PM

31 January 2013

12:28 PM

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.’

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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