"The RSPCA has been back in the news this week, with Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail and the NFU in the Western Daily Press questioning methods and motives within the Society.
Last Saturday Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts used his column to report that "Sir Edward Garnier, former Solicitor General, rose in the Commons a few days ago and pointed out that the RSPCA is treated with rare generosity by judges. 'When the RSPCA loses cases because it has got either the law or the facts wrong, cost orders are never made in favour of the successful defendant,' noted Sir Edward.
Letts continued: "The RSPCA is in the rare position of being both investigator and prosecutor. It is able to bring prosecutions in its own name. When the Crown Prosecution Service loses cases, as sometimes happens, it tends to have costs awarded against it. This deters gung-ho prosecutors from bringing cases at the drop of a hat. Yet when the RSPCA loses a case, costs are frequently paid from state funds."
The piece ended by noting that "Justice Minister Jeremy Wright has told Sir Edward he will investigate this use of public money."
Following this, on Monday the Western Daily Press carried a scorching commentary from Ian Johnson, the NFU's South West spokesman and ex-RSPCA press head, who wrote about the RSPCA's seeming confusion over the difference between animal rights and welfare. The piece centred on the reaction to the badger cull, with the Society calling for a boycott of produce from farms taking part in the pilot cull. Johnson quoted RSPCA Chief Executive Gavin Grant as saying "Those who care will not want to visit areas or buy milk from farms soaked in badgers' blood."
Johnson goes on to question whether the emotive language is to attract new funding and support, or to politicise the Society as Grant "may well be looking to a renaissance of RSPCA influence under a Lib Dem/New Labour coalition after the next election."
Johnson finishes by noting: "...if the animal rights movement is all about ending their use by mankind as opposed to animal welfare being about responsibly ensuring their health and well-being, and the culling of badgers is a scientifically and legally validated means of disease control in pursuit of the ultimate health and well-being of both badgers and cattle, is the RSPCA an animal rights or an animal welfare organisation?"
I have written about the RSPCA before in the grass e-route. Both these articles echo our own concerns and it is gratifying that our views are widely shared. The RSPCA's work should remain about animal welfare - that is its background and its strength. Adopting the language and tactics of the animal rights movement will do neither it, nor animals, any good.
Barney White Spunner
I dont expect them to lose charitable status but it should focus their minds onto their core work as orginally envisaged when set up and hopefully should cost orders be made against them they may start to back away from politically motivated cases.
One can only hope eh?