The Charity Commission has rejected a request made by a Holocaust survivor to investigate a newly elected Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (RSPCA) board member who compared the mass murder of Jews to farming.
Agnes Grunwald-Spier, a prominent author and campaigner, urged the commission to intervene after Peta Watson-Smith, a hardline vegan and anti-farming campaigner, was selected by the RSPCA’s 22,000 members to sit on the charities twenty-three member council, ten days ago.
Watson-Smith told The Times last year, when she first stood for election, that she would encourage the public “to follow a wholly plant-based diet” if selected. She said:
“Encouraging people to eat less meat is going to benefit animals and the knock-on is going to be human health and welfare. 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?”
Mrs. Grunwald-Spier, 70, is a Hungarian Jew who narrowly escaped Auschwitz, where her grandfather perished. She authored The Other Schindlers and has served as a trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, as a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and as a magistrate.
She wrote in a letter to the commission: “As a Holocaust survivor and writer and researcher on the Holocaust, this comment is both crass and offensive and betrays a complete lack of understanding of the Holocaust. In my view this renders her a most inappropriate person to be a trustee of a registered charity.”
Last week’s election saw a swing towards candidates sympathetic to extreme, leftist interpretations of animal rights.
Also selected was hardliner Dan Lyons, who said he wants to see pet owners sit compulsory examinations in his election manifesto. Lyons is chief executive of a charity that has been exploring ways to “represent” animals in parliament, called the Centre for Animals and Social Justice. Jane Tredgett, who wants to combat “companion animal over-population,” was re-elected.
Yet the Charity Commission says it is powerless to respond to concerns that the extremists are bringing the RSPCA into disrepute, as they have not broken any laws.
The RSPCA has a budget of £125 million and prosecutes more than 1,000 people a year, making it one of the largest prosecutors in the country. The controversial election results have led MPs to propose a parliamentary inquiry into the RSPCA.
Tim Bonner, the director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, told The Times that the extreme animal rights agenda “alienates people in the countryside completely from what should be the most important animal welfare organisation in the country”.