A hard line vegan who compared farming to the Holocaust has been defeated in her attempt to get onto the ruling council of animal welfare charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Peta Watson-Smith, whose comments have been condemned by Jewish and farming groups, wanted the charity to actively promote vegetarianism and focus more on prosecuting farmers.
The Times reports, however, that another radical, Joseph Piccioni, succeeded in his bid to be elected as a trustee. Mr Piccioni, who has served in the group’s council before, previously managed to persuade them to withdraw from the world’s biggest dog breeding show, Crufts, due to concerns about cruelty in pedigree dog breeding. He even encouraged the charity to adopt a policy opposing game shooting.
He is also a supporter of the Hillside sanctuary that cares for animals “rescued from the farming industry”, which has criticised the RSPCA for not being tough enough on farmers.
Mr Piccioni was nominated by Mrs Watson-Smith, and said wants to “support progressives on the Council”.
The RSPCA is Britain’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity, originally founded in the Victorian era. Such was its respectability that Queen Victoria herself gave her support to the group, allowing it to use the word “Royal” in its name.
What was once a vehicle for ordinary English decency towards animals has become increasingly radicalised in recent years, with an increasing number of activists adopting an ideological animal rights agenda.
The group has been criticised after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on failed prosecutions of foxhunts across the country. In January last year, former solicitor general Sir Edward Garnier accused the RSPCA of “using the weapon of the state prosecution for political campaigns” after it spent £326,000 taking the Prime Minister’s local hunt to court.
The newly-elected council will appoint a new chief executive to replace the controversial Gavin Grant who stood down due to poor health.