The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), formerly one of Britain’s most respected charities, has elected a radical vegan who compared farming to the Holocaust to its governing board.
Peta Watson-Smith, who outraged Jewish leaders with her comments, was elected to the 23-member council in a poll of the animal charity’s 22,000 members.
She will be joined by another radical, Dan Lyons, who wants people to sit exams before they can own pets and runs a group called the Centre for Animals and Social Justice which calls for animals to be represented in the British Parliament.
Also elected to the board is Jane Tredgett, who wants to fight “companion animal over-population”.
The appointments will be seen as further evidence that the charity is becoming increasingly radicalised.
Earlier this year, it dropped its last prosecution of a fox hunt after admitting there was “no longer a realistic prospect of securing a conviction”. This followed an independent review that questioned its policy of bringing private prosecutions against hunts.
In 2012, it faced criticism for bringing a £326,000 private prosecution against David Cameron’s local hunt, leading to accusations it was motivated more by political expedience than concerns for animal welfare.
Speaking last year, Ms Watson-Smith, said that if elected she would she would encourage people to adopt a “wholly plant-based diet”, before remarking: “I don’t think people always appreciate what is the Holocaust going on behind closed doors. You talk about the Jews. If we recognise animals as sentient beings, why are we treating them so abysmally on farms?”
She is a member of the Hillside Animal Sanctuary which “rescues” animals from the farming industry and supports the radical group Animal Aid which wants to ban horse racing.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance, said that extreme animal rights activism “alienates people in the countryside completely from what should be the most important animal welfare organisation in the country”.