Monday, 7 January 2013


 Britain’s biggest animal welfare charity is one of the country's most complained about charities, figures from charities regulator suggest.
The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, disclosed that it has received 12 complaints about the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals over the past two years.
The RSPCA has been criticised by a judge and reported to the Commission by MPs and peers for controversially funding a successful £326,000 prosecution against Prime Minister David Cameron’s local hunt last month.
In a Freedom of Information response, the Commission said it recorded 12 complaints against the RSPCA, behind only the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the HFSH Charitable Trust, a spiritual healers charity, with 13 “cases” each, in the two years until March 31 2012.
Referring specifically to the RSPCA, the Commission said it had “received complaints from different members of the public, primarily about the service provided by the charity, the charity’s activities or general decisions taken by the trustees in the course of their day to day management of the charity”.
It added: “In all instances the Commission felt that the complaints were best addressed by explaining its role and providing general advice and guidance to the complainants on the charity’s position. "In certain cases the complainants were advised to contact the trustees directly.”
Simon Hart MP, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance who obtained the figures under the FOI Act, said: “No animal based charity should the subject of so many complaints.
“It suggests a loss of direction and leadership, and a focus on political ideology at the expense of animal welfare.”
The figures were issued by the Charity Commission to Mr Hart last July, several months before a judge criticised the charity for the “staggering” cost of the prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire.
The MPs and peers have reported the RSPCA’s 18 trustees to the Charity Commission last month for breaching a “duty of prudence” which governs the actions of all charity trustees under charity legislation.
The group – which includes Tory grandee Lord Heseltine – also told the watchdog that they had “concerns about the motivation for bringing this prosecution”.
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “The RSPCA is unique among charities in England and Wales. No other charity can claim to campaign for legislative change, and then to uphold the very laws that it fought for with such dedication.
“Throughout our history, the RSPCA has never and will never shy away from making decisions that we believe further the cause of prevention of cruelty to animals – no matter how unpopular they may prove with some people.
“It goes without saying that many of the decisions we make will upset those who believe they can break the law and get away with it.
“We make no apology for that. Our ‘raison d'etre’ is to be the voice and protector of animals that cannot protect themselves.”
A spokesman for the Commission said: “We do not keep league tables in relation to complaints which we receive about charities. Large national charities which are membership organisations like the RSPCA invariably have a high public profile and do attract public attention.
“Many concerns which may be raised with the Commission about the way the charity conducts its affairs are not matters for the Commission as charity regulator as they are matters for the charity itself.
“Trustees are permitted to exercise their duties and responsibilities in the best interests of the charity as they think fit. The Commission would only be concerned as regulator where a charity was in clear breach of its duties and responsibilities as a charity.
“This would not include interfering with decisions made by the charity where these have been properly made.
“Ultimately trustees are responsible for running the charity and for dealing with any reputational issues which might arise.”

Sunday, 6 January 2013


A local branch of the RSPCA is facing closure due to lack of funds, despite its head office spending hundreds of thousands of pounds successfully prosecuting Prime Minister David Cameron's local hunt.
David Cameron pays a visit to the Heythrop Hunt

 The animal welfare charity's branch in Preston, Lancashire - which costs just £600 a day to run - has said that it only has enough money left to stay open for another two months.
The RSPCA's national office said last night that it said it would not step in to pay for the running costs of the Preston branch because it was a separate charity and urged people to donate to it directly.
The news will alarm animal welfare campaigners because the weeks after Christmas can be busy for animal rescue centres as it is the time when families who bring back unwanted pets which were given as presents.
If the 126-year-old branch is forced to close, there are fears that hundreds of abandoned pets could have to be rehoused.
The RSPCA has been under fire after a judge criticised the charity for sanctioning a “staggering” £326,000 to be spent on a prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt in Oxfordshire, with which David Cameron has ridden in the past.
The MPs and peers have reported the RSPCA’s 18 trustees to the Charity Commission for breaching a “duty of prudence” which governs the actions of all charity trustees under charity legislation.
The group – which includes Tory grandee Lord Heseltine – also told the watchdog that they had “concerns about the motivation for bringing this prosecution”.
Tory MP Simon Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said last night that it was “very sad” that a branch which daily cared for sick and injured animals was potentially closing down weeks after the prosecution.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “It is very sad that pets are going uncared for due to lack of funds at the same time as the Charity spends a third of a million on a case that will not save the life of a single fox.
“There is a huge difference between being an animal welfare organisation, which the RSPCA used to be famous for, and an animal rights one, which is what the society is fast becoming.”
The RSPCA declined to say whether its national office, which last year received £100million in donations, would intervene to stop the Preston branch from closing.


The animal welfare organisation has badly lost its way under its new leadership
Where is your money going? The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty, including hunting, to court - Our once great RSPCA is being destroyed by a militant tendency
Where is your money going? The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty, including hunting, to court.
One must always treat lawyers with respect, so let me state at once that I have absolutely nothing against Jeremy Carter-Manning QC. From his entry in Who’s Who, I see that he was educated at St Paul’s School, called to the Bar nearly 40 years ago, and that his recreations include “food and wine”, which he pursues in the Reform Club. I have no doubt he is esteemed in his profession.
Most of us might have passed our entire lives without ever hearing of Mr Carter-Manning QC, were it not for a bill submitted for his costs at Bicester magistrates’ court last month. He charged £73,310.80 plus VAT. (His two fellow counsel added another £90,000.) Mr Carter-Manning’s services cost £300 an hour, so I calculate that he worked for roughly 244 hours on this case.
What was he doing? According to Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, which hired him, he was watching “hundreds of hours of footage” of the Heythrop Hunt to see if offences had been committed under the Hunting Act. Eventually, the RSPCA brought 52 charges against four hunt members. Two were acquitted, but two pleaded guilty to four charges of hunting a wild mammal with dogs, a charge so minor that it is classified as “non-recordable”. They – and the hunt corporately – were fined a total of less than £7,000.
The costs that the RSPCA submitted to the court were £326,000. The district judge, who rejected the RSPCA’s attempt to conceal this amount from public gaze, described them as “quite staggering”. Despite the RSPCA “winning”, the charity therefore had to pay most of them itself.
As I say, no blame attaches to Mr Carter-Manning QC. He must live. If he can get £300 an hour for staring at grainy amateur film to see if hounds are chasing after foxes, good luck to him. But the more one reflects on this enterprise, the more extraordinary it is.  
Charities must, by law, act prudently with their funds. The RSPCA often brings cases of animal cruelty to court, and since it regards hunting as cruel, this comes within its remit. But Mr Grant himself says that his organisation brought 2,000 prosecutions last year, at a total cost of £5 million, an average of £2,500 a go. If each of these 2,000 cases had cost the same as the Heythrop case, the RSPCA would have spent approximately £660 million on them – way beyond the means of any charity in the entire history of the planet.
So why, in terms of animal cruelty, was the Heythrop Hunt case considered more than 100 times more important than the torture of a pony, or the starvation of a cat, or alsatians, overcrowded and filthy, locked in a tower block all day, or all the other horrible things that human beings do to animals?
It wasn’t, of course. Even a fierce opponent of hunting could not make that claim. The difference is political. Under Mr Grant, who took over last year, the RSPCA is militant. The Heythrop Hunt was chosen because its country is in David Cameron’s constituency. Mr Grant has denied that he is fighting a class war: “This isn’t about accents,” he declared. But he also said to the Daily Mirror that those hunting with the Heythrop were “no different from badger baiters – apart from their accents”, so accents would seem to be on his mind. He says he wants the men to go to prison for between two and five years.
As you would expect, the RSPCA has its own legal department, well-versed, presumably, in looking at film of alleged animal cruelty. But that wasn’t good enough for Mr Grant. He had to get the QC in and pay him to watch the movies. He wanted this to be big.
A similar tendency to go for the dramatic gesture was visible when Mr Grant called for a boycott of all milk produced by farmers who had agreed to take part in the badger cull (later postponed) to help eradicate bovine – and badger – TB. People would not want to buy milk from farms “soaked in badgers’ blood”, he said. In Ramsgate, in September, RSPCA inspectors, worried about defective live animal transport, insisted on unloading sheep at the port and shooting more than 40 that they deemed unfit to travel. Two sheep also drowned in a water tank. Mr Grant has defended what the inspectors did, without qualification.
He is entitled to his views. But when you look at the main work for which the RSPCA is valued, you see that it is overwhelmingly the practical rescue and care of animals. On its website, the emphasis is on this good work, and on practical advice about disease, strays, worming etc. The RSPCA’s key “five pledges” do not mention prosecutions.
Because of its care of animals, the RSPCA is treated in a special way. Its inspectors wear uniforms, though they have no legal powers. Chief constables encourage its prosecution work. And – a little known fact – if the RSPCA brings a case and loses it, the costs of the defendants are usually borne by the taxpayer. So the RSPCA can prosecute almost without thinking. It can go to law as a marketing tool or to make a political point.
This is an abuse of the privileges our culture has traditionally granted it. These, including its many legacies, its charitable status and the patronage of the Queen, came because the RSPCA was an animal welfare organisation – and people strongly support that. Recently, it has become an animal rights organisation instead.
The doctrine of animal rights, developed by Dr Richard Ryder, who is on the RSPCA Council, regards human beings as morally identical to “other animals”, so they should never kill animals for food or clothing, let alone sport. Dr Ryder thinks that people who disagree are guilty of “speciesism”, which, like racism, is profoundly wicked. Mr Grant is highly sympathetic to these views. A former Liberal Democrat activist, he sees his work as a political campaign. This alienates large numbers of people – farmers, horse-racing bodies, dog organisations – who work professionally with animals, not to mention officials and ministers at Defra. Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, recently told the RSPCA to be “wary” of muddling charity and politics. Relationships which once were co-operative have become confrontational.
People are naturally starting to ask by what right the RSPCA acts. Despite its policy of never killing a “rehousable” animal, it admits to putting down 3,400 animals for non-medical reasons in 2011. Its membership has fallen to only 25,000. This is a tenth of the numbers who turn out to support hunts on Boxing Day and a fortieth of the membership of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Whom, then, does it actually represent? The RSPCA website does little to attract members, as opposed to donations. It looks as if it likes to trade on its huge, historic reputation, without answering to anyone.
Over 30 years ago, a comparable takeover occurred in the Labour Party. A mass movement originally designed to advance the interests of workers was infiltrated by the Militant Tendency. Today, a movement originally designed to advance the interests of animals hangs in the balance.
By the way, I notice a postscript on the bill submitted to Bicester magistrates’ court. “Counsel,” it says, “have carried out and will carry out other work in relation to this type of prosecution in general.” If you are thinking of giving money to the RSPCA, you might as well cut out the middle man and send it straight to Mr Jeremy Carter-Manning QC instead.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


We ask the government to investigate the RSPCA's activities, especially where they infringe civl or legal rights.

Responsible department: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The RSPCA use "bully boy" tactics against innocent members of the public to bring prosecutions. They often infringe on citizens civil and legal rights.
They misuse funds which have been donated by members of the public specifically for animal welfare for their own political gain in bringing these often vexatious prosecutions. This petition asks that the government investigate fully the actions of the RSPCA, ensure that they are unable to prosecute anyone as that is the remit of the CPS and ensure tighter rules are in place from the charities commission to prevent registered charities from using funds for political lobbying or bringing private prosecutions.