Despite early reports indicating that the Charity Commission had cleared the RSPCA of any wrongdoing in its campaigns for an end to the badger cull, it was clear that the RSPCA had been required to back track on Gavin Grant’s calls for farmers involved in the cull to be named and shamed. The RSPCA also had to clarify that it had no plans for a milk boycott. It later became apparent that the Charity Commission’s decision to close this case ‘does not mean that our regulatory duty towards the RSPCA is ended‘.
The Commission intends to meet with the RSPCA’s trustees to ‘discuss the wider issues raised by this case and by the RSPCA’s activities in general’.
Despite stating that “the RSPCA condemns all harassment, intimidation and violence” the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme has written to members warning they will be excluded from the scheme if they take part in the cull, and Gavin Grant stated on Panorama that those who took part in the cull would be named and possibly shamed.
The problem with the RSPCA’s statements is not that they will carry out their threats but that their supporters will take their cue from any comment or statement made by anyone in the RSPCA, especially those seen to be in positions of power within the organisation, such as Mr. Grant.
A pensioner has already put posters up around her village accusing a man of being one of the marksmen hired to shoot badgers. Others believed to be land owners taking part in the cull are being subjected to harassing visits and telephone calls.
More extreme actions damaging property and risking the lives of people and animals have begun. A police firing range near Bristol has been burnt to the ground. Anti-badger cull groups claim responsibility.
The Charity Commission must rein in the RSPCA and make it clear that hyping up people’s emotions is dangerous and not something that a responsible charity, and especially a charity that claims to uphold the law and prosecute the irresponsible should ever contemplate doing.