Anger over proposed RSPCA moves to campaign against angling and horse racing


In a statement the BHA said: “British racing has a long history of collaboration with recognised welfare organisations such as the RSPCA, World Horse Welfare and SSPCA, which over recent years has resulted in a number of measured, evidence-based enhancements to the sport’s high welfare standards.”

The controversy is just the latest to surround the RSPCA, whose patron the Queen is a known lover of country pursuits.

Moderate elements within the charity are understood to be concerned that any moves to campaign against horse racing – which is one of Her Majesty’s favourite leisure activities – would threaten to undermine the relationship between the organisation and its patron.

It could also lead to questions over whether that royal patronage can continue when the Prince of Wales Charles becomes king.

In recent years Prince Charles has voiced concern over its campaigning against countryside sports, raising questions over its royal patronage, first granted by Queen Victoria in 1840.

In 2016 the Telegraph revealed that Prince Charles had privately raised his concerns that the emphasis of the charity was moving away from animal welfare towards campaigning against countryside sports.

The RSPCA has until now taken a more moderate approach to both pastimes, by working with the horse racing industry to improve welfare standards and seeking  to educate anglers about the risk to wildlife posed by discarded fishing line and hooks.

But a group of activists on the charity’s ruling council, including it’s vice chair Jane Tredgett, are understood to be seeking to persuade it to take a tougher line on both activities.

Ms Tredgett’s current allies on the RSPCA council include Bob Baylis, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn who frequently posting tweets in support of the Labour Leader and has allegedly offended colleagues with criticism of the Queen. 

According to his RSPCA biography his commitment to animal rights dates back to the early 1980s, when he was a director of  Animal Aid and the anti vivisection and animal experiments group BUAV, now named Cruelty Free International.

Mr Baylis has referred all questions to the RSPCA and dismissed reported he had criticised the Queen during RSPCA council meetings, saying: “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my entire life.” Ms Tredgett did not respond to requests for comment.

Asked if the RSPCA was discussing whether to campaign for angling and horse racing to be outlawed, a spokesman said: “All our policies are regularly reviewed and things will have been discussed. We won’t go into details of our discussions but regular discussions do take place of all topics regarding animal welfare.”

The charity added: “The RSPCA has no plans to campaign for a ban on angling or horse racing. We work constructively with the relevant bodies in these sectors to improve animal welfare standards.”


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