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RSPCA apologise for ‘making mistakes’

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Brian Thomas, FUW: Charity Commission ‘brushed concerns under carpet’

Brian Thomas, FUW: Charity
Commission ‘brushed concerns
under carpet’

THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales has welcomed Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) chief executive Jeremy Cooper’s apology for the charity’s adversarial and highly politicised campaigns – but says many ques­tions remain regarding the organisa­tion’s conduct and that of the Charity Commission, which is responsible for monitoring charities.

Mr Cooper told The Telegraph: “Of course we have made mistakes in the past, and we are very sorry about that. We have to be honest and admit the mistakes and acknowledge them.”

The apology comes after years of criticism and negative publicity led to a parliamentary inquiry and an independ­ent report recommending sweeping changes to the charity’s involvement with prosecutions.

Responding to the apology, FUW Deputy President Brian Thomas said: “For more than a decade the FUW repeatedly raised concerns about the conduct of the RSPCA in relation to its overtly political campaigns, and pur­sued a number of complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority and the Charity Commission, amongst oth­ers.”

Mr Thomas said that while the ASA had upheld complaints against the RSP­CA by the FUW, the Charity Commis­sion had, over a prolonged period, ap­peared to take a passive approach to the charity: “In response to serious com­plaints against the RSPCA the Charity Commission was generally dismissive and at times appeared to try and brush concerns under the carpet.

“Their passive approach to the RSPCA effectively gave the charity a green light to become more militant and more political, and we would argue that Mr Cooper’s public apology is at least in part a direct consequence of this fail­ure by the Charity Commission,” added Mr Thomas.

In 2012, the then Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, described the charity as ‘the oldest law enforce­ment agency still in existence in this country’, and threatened to campaign to ‘stop consumers drinking milk’, if supermarkets were unable to differenti­ate between ‘badger friendly milk’ and milk from English badger cull areas.

Similar, more ominous threats were made during a 2012 BBC Panorama documentary on the English badger cull, during which Mr Grant said that: “The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen [employed to cull badgers] and on those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed.”

In 2012, the FUW wrote to the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers expressing major con­cerns that ten police forces in the UK, including the North Wales and South Wales Forces, had agreements with the RSPCA which allowed the charity to access confidential and sensitive infor­mation about individuals contained in police records.

Concerns have also been expressed after the RSPCA tried to claim thou­sands of pounds for stabling and caring for horses which had been put down by the charity.

“A sinister shadow has been cast over the honourable roots of the RSP­CA and the important work done by its employees.

“The only way in which to redeem its reputation is through full transpar­ency, and a full investigation of the role played by the Charity Commission in allowing the organisation to fall into such disrepute,” said Mr Thomas.

A statement from the RSPCA struck a slightly more bullish tone than Mr Cooper’s interview: ‘We can assure you the RSPCA remains as committed as ever to speaking out for vulnerable animals.

‘We make no apologies for our campaigning work which has resulted in the introduction and amendment of many laws to protect our pets, wildlife, farm animals and animals used in re­search, but we accept we got the tone wrong sometimes. Likewise, we make no apologies for prosecuting people in instances where there is clear evidence of animal cruelty.

‘Following an independent review of our prosecution activity and in line with one of the recommendations of that review, RSPCA trustees agreed to change its policy and to pass suitable cases involving traditional hunts and suitable farm cases to the police for investigation enabling the Crown Pros­ecution Service to prosecute if appro­priate. However, we reserve the right to proceed with such investigations, if the authorities fail to act.

‘We are pleased that the number of prosecutions have dropped over recent years, highlighting that welfare is im­proving and educational messages are more available. We hope this is a trend that will continue.

‘We do however apologise for the specific incidents where we have got it wrong. As a charity we have limited resources and we are dealing with huge numbers of calls. We apologise for past mistakes where an investigation wasn’t carried out to the standard we would hope, both for the animal involved and their owners. The RSPCA has and al­ways will be committed to tackling cru­elty to animals’.

The Chief Executive of the Coun­tryside Alliance, Tim Bonner, said: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes the RSPCA’s commitment to focus on animal welfare, rather than pursuing an animal rights agenda.

“The Society’s decision not to pur­sue prosecutions against farmers and hunts is a sensible one, and provides further support for the argument that it should not prosecute criminal cases as a first resort at all.

“We believe that it would be bet­ter for the RSPCA and for animals if it concentrated on protecting welfare and investigating allegations of cruelty whilst allowing the police, CPS and other statutory bodies to make deci­sions about whether criminal charges should be brought.”

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Over 25 million views for takeaway’s viral video

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A TAKEAWAY in Tregaron has struck viral gold – again.

Their latest video, featuring a ‘monster kebab’ has had at least 25 million views.

The company’s Facebook page now has over 50,000 likes.

The video was shared on popular video channel LADbible and has over 11.5 million views.

Another page, UniLad, shared the video and has over 9 million views.

The UniLad page said: “With the help of 6 friends, you have 8 minutes to demolish this MONSTER kebab! Who’s on your team?”

In September last year, a ‘hangover cure’ video went viral for the business, racking up millions of views.

At the time, Lisa McEwen, a staff member at the popular takeaway, told The Herald: “One of our customers tagged us in something similar online and our Manager Pasha Pasaoglu – being the business entrepreneur that he is – decided we can make this better! And that’s where the Giant Mix-meat Challenge was born​.

“With Tregaron having such a small population we could never have expected to get this much publicity but it’s gone viral and we are so proud and grateful to all of our customers, regular and new​.”

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Three arrested as man is hospitalised with ‘life threatening injuries’

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THREE men have been arrested after a man was hospitalised in the early hours of this morning (Jan 14) with what police are calling ‘life threatening injuries’.

The incident took place in High Street, Aberystwyth, at approximately 2:20am.

Three men, ages 20, 23 and 25 have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

They are in police custody.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them as a matter of urgency.

A police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating a serious assault at High Street, Aberystwyth, which happened at around 2.20am today (Sunday, 14 Jan). As a result of the attack a man is in hospital with life threatening injuries.

“Three men, aged 25, 23 and 20, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and remain in police custody at this time.

“Police are appealing for witnesses who were at, or near, High Street between 12.45am and 2.30am. Anyone with information, or footage of the attack, is urged to report it to Aberystwyth police by calling 101, quoting incident 402. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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Morgan, 7, loses long battle with cancer

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THE FAMILY of a brave seven-year-old boy have said he has sadly lost his fight with cancer.

Morgan Hayes, from Whitland, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in February 2015 when he was just 4-years-old.

After being given the all-clear following numerous treatments, unfortunately the cancer returned.

He was then the focus of a campaign, Morgan’s Fight, to raise funds for him to get treatment in the United States of America.

However, despite the funds raised, Morgan was too unwell for the treatment in New York.

He instead underwent radiotherapy at home.

A statement posted on the Morgan’s Appeal Facebook page read: “It is with a very heavy heart I write this on behalf of Ben, Sophie and their families.

“Morgan passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning, in the arms of his Mum, Dad and family.

“We thank you all for your on going support and kind words.

“Please respect the family’s need to grieve together during this very difficult time.”

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