Mr Grant, do you accept that people in the RSPCA are frightened of you? What do you say to those who say you have created a “culture of fear” and that no one dare speak out against you? The Spectator, 31 January, 2013
Many will be shocked at the suicide of a former RSPCA Inspector turned animal-welfare whistle blower Dawn Aubrey-Ward.
Aubrey-Ward had become appalled by what she considered the senseless killing of many unwanted but otherwise healthy animals by her then employers the RSPCA. She was so uneasy with the fact that she decided to report her concerns to the UK's Daily Mail newspaper in December 2012.
This was much to the annoyance of the RSPCA and according to The Times newspaper they responded by making public attacks on her character, implying that she was a liar motivated by malice.
The day before she took her life she posted on Facebook: “That’s it, I give up, I am unemployed, broke struggling and allegedly ‘damaged’.”
The RSPCA's actions in this matter should come as no surprise as they face a number of questions as to the ethics of its operation not just from Dawn Aubrey-Ward but others questioning whether it has now crossed the line from an animal-welfare to a political animal-rights lobby group.
Questions were even raised in the UK Parliament after it was revealed that the charity had spent huge sums of donated money from concerned animal lovers to pursue high-profile cases, in particular the prosecution of the Heythrop hunt in the constituency of the UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Allegations were made that the organisation was pursuing a political agenda, something that is clearly forbidden as a registered charity. However, this is not the first time that the RSPCA has had an identity crisis as to its aims and objectives.
Perhaps the first cause for concern came about as far back as the mid-1970's via actions of the RSPCA Reform Group.
This group wished to radicalise the charity and move away from its traditional values of companion animals toward issues such as factory farming, animal testing and hunting. To this end, they sort to get various advocates of animal-rights elected to the national council and put forward candidates such as theologian Andrew Linzey and Richard Ryder.
Along with Peter Singer, Ryder is considered by many as a founding father of the contemporary animal-rights movement who also coined the term "speciesism". He was voted onto the RSPCA council and became its vice-chairman in 1976, and later chairman from 1977 to 1979. He remains a Council member today.
Interestingly, Peter Singer also has close connections with the RSPCA currently being an honorary vice-president.
Additionally, in 1991 it was revealed that a member of the ruling council of the RSPCA, Robin Webb was also the press officer for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) terrorist group. Webb resigned his RSPCA post prior to a motion expelling him from the society but according to the RSPCA's former press officer Ian Johnson:
"When I started my brief but interesting sojourn there, it was agonising over the expulsion of the Animal Liberation Front’s press officer, Robin Webb, who was not without sympathisers within the organisation."
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