Charity Commission to meet RSPCA over badger cull issues

Charity Commission bosses will meet with RSPCA trustees to discuss the “wider issues” surrounding the charity’s activities over the badger cull, it has been revealed.

Despite the Charity Commission (CC) last week (29 August) closing a case made against the RSPCA about badger cull and live export protesting, MeatInfo.co.uk has learnt that the CC has not ended its “regulatory duty” towards the RSPCA.

A spokesperson said: “We expect to meet the trustees soon in order to discuss the wider issues raised by this case and by the RSPCA’s activities in general.”

NFU complaint

The case brought against the RSPCA was the result of a complaint made by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in February. It was claimed that RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant called for the farmers involved in the badger cull pilot zones to be named and for a boycott on their products.

Yet the CC concluded there were no outstanding regulatory concerns. The CC said it told RSPCA trustees there was no reason for the charity to do anything that might lead to the harm of individuals, adding: “The naming of farmers could not be justified as a means to further the charity’s objectives.”

In response to the Commission, RSPCA trustees said it did not and would not “advocate the naming of farms involved in the cull,” and that it condemned any personal intimidation.  

Following the outcome last week, NFU president Peter Kendall said he was pleased with the result. “We took this step in asking for the Charity Commission to look into the RSPCA’s campaigns on the badger cull and live animal exports after NFU members raised concerns with us.”

He added: “We raised these concerns with the Charity Commission as to whether the RSPCA may have stepped outside the boundaries of the law that applies to charities, and the Charity Commission’s guidance, with some of its recent activities.”

Farmers support the RSPCA

He noted that farmers have supported the RSPCA, understanding its work to safeguard the welfare of animals. “We have no issues with its charitable work,” said Kendall. But he added: “As a charity, the RSPCA has a privileged status, but it must respect the law that applies to charities and it must abide by Charity Commission guidance.”

Meanwhile, the CC has also highlighted the need for the RSPCA’s campaigns to be subject to oversight by its trustees, who must “assess the reputational” risks for the animal charity of controversial campaigns.

The Commission also said the charity needed to handle campaigns responsibly and with “proper consideration as to whether any campaign supports or furthers the charity’s purposes”.

Mike Tomlinson, Chair of the Council of RSPCA Trustees added: “In a week which has seen the start of the badger cull pilot, we are unsurprised that the Charity Commission has found no grounds whatsoever for the NFU’s complaint.”

The charity also confirmed that it would not call for farmers involved in the badger cull to be named.