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RSPCA may lose “credibility” after activists join council

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

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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.