MPs plan for an inquiry into the RSPCA's recent behaviour, following the election of hardline animal activists to the charity's ruling council


The RSPCA is at risk of losing its credibility following the election of two radical activists to its ruling council and by putting political campaigns ahead of animal welfare, say MPs.

The Mail on Sunday reports that MPs are concerned the charity is growing far removed from its traditional role of protecting animals to focus on prosecutions.

The comments come after the RSPCA elected Peta Watson-Smith, who once compared farming to the Holocaust and thinks we should eat only plant-based food, and Dan Lyons, who believes people should pass an exam before being allowed to own a pet and has described hunting as “institutionalised sadism.”

Neil Parish, the new chairman of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee questioned the RSPCA’s recent behaviour. He said: “I would like to hold an inquiry into the charity and the way it is run and will discuss the feasibility of such an investigation when the committee meets for the first time.”

The Conservative MP added: “There appears to be a power struggle between the factions inside the organisation. A lot of people give money to the charity for genuine animal welfare work. But it is the management and lack of governance that is letting the charity down.”

Furthermore, The Telegraph claims an anonymous Government source, reportedly from DEFRA, accused the charity of opposing the badger cull in a bid to increase donations. The source warned that the RSPCA risks losing public support if it doesn’t reform.

The charity has in the past been criticised for using donations to prosecute people for foxhunting and launching political campaigns against the cull and the Grand National.

“It is very short-term,” said the source. “If they’re not careful they will erode their credibility.

“They do so much good it would be a tragedy if they wasted all of that goodwill and reputation on misguided political short-termism. It would be a disaster for the charity if they did that.”

MPs are said to be especially worried that the charity has failed to appoint a new chief executive following the departure of Gavin Grant 18 months ago due to ill health.

Morale at the RSPCA is also believed to be very low, with redundancies and short-term rolling contracts brought in for staff after donations dropped by £7million.

  • steve

    As a shooter i tend to side with the RSPCA what gets to me more and more is the total arrogance of the horsey sett I have had experienced the rudeness and the sheer arrogance of our local hunt not to mention the hunt stewards who rode through our shoot even though they are not allowed they just dont care fourteen horses three quad bikes and six others on foot the chaos they caused is unbelievable .They just dont care,

  • Clued-Up

    The most interesting item here is the attack on the RSPCA for its stance on the badger cull allegedly by someone (fairly senior?) working for DEFRA.

    What the anonymous speaker allegedly said shows staggering ignorance about the RSPCA’s animal welfare role … or a capacity for self-deceit that means he’s not fit to do his job. The RSPCA is both a leading UK charity and one that’s active in protecting the welfare of farm livestock as well as that of pets and wildlife. Anyone professionally interested in agriculture should know a lot more about the RSPCA and its remit than this anonymous speaker apparently does.

    The anonymous speaker was daft to criticise the RSPCA about objecting to the badger cull on the grounds of its cruelty and the pointlessness of killing of badgers to reduce the spread of a cattle disease transmitted almost entirely by cattle to other cattle. Every animal welfare organisation, every nationally eminent non-DEFRA employed scientist who’s studied badgers or who works in animal disease control AGREES with the RSPCA. It’s DEFRA who are out of kilter with everyone else – and even they are back-tracking on what they claimed earlier on.

    It ill behoves anyone employed by DEFRA to claim the RSPCA’s credibility is being eroded by short-termism and by poor leadership. Thanks to DEFRA ministers and senior officials’ actions and omissions over the control of cattle bTB, the badger cull, flood protection and the food scandals, staff morale at DEFRA is now at rock bottom (confirmed by staff surveys). DEFRA’s finances are in disarray. The department has won the contempt and distrust of many different sections of the public, including farmers and the 80% public who want the badger cull stopped.

  • Katrina Love

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that the appointment of two people who oppose ALL animal cruelty, abuse and exploitation, to the Board of an agency which is supposed to prevent cruelty to “all creatures great and small”, is in any way extreme or askew.

    What IS extreme and radical is advocating for prevention of cruelty to animals, whilst suggesting that any animal can possibly be “humanely slaughtered” or ethically exploited, and serving up pieces of their bodies at fundraising events.