Wednesday, March 30, 2016
RSPCA killed a cat for having long hair – then buried damning report
The once respectable RSPCA has become a rogue organization heavily influenced by animal rights fanatics. As such, it is hostile to people
A secret report has revealed the RSPCA 'behaved unlawfully' and covered up evidence when seizing and killing a family's cat.
The unpublished review also said the animal charity 'provoked a hate campaign' against the cat's owners in Hertfordshire after issuing false claims it was too thin.
The elderly cat, called Claude, was taken by the RSPCA in 2013 after a call from a member of the public and taken to a vet who recommended putting him down due to age and underlying health problems.
But according to The Times, an unpublished review carried out by former chief inspector to the Crown Prosecution Service Stephen Wooler shows Claude was taken from owners Richard and Samantha Byrnes without 'lawful authority'.
He was not known to the vet, who had been incorrectly told consent had been given to remove him from the family, and police had consented for the cat to be kept in overnight.
In the report Mr Wooler said: 'A striking feature of the events is the confidence displayed by [the RSPCA] that the police would unquestioningly acquiesce in whatever actions [it] requested. Respect for due process and the rights of individuals was largely absent.'
The review is expected to be debated by MPs as part of an inquiry into the RSPCA's role as the most prolific private prosecutor in the UK.
As previously reported, the RSPCA made a public apology to the family after putting Claude to sleep before they could even say goodbye. The coupe had turned up at the vet's the morning after he was taken ready to bring him home only to be told he was to be put down.
In the report Mrs Byrnes asks them to delay it until after school has finished so her children could say goodbye, only to be told no.
They have two children, Dominic, 17, and Eloise, 15, who were devastated at losing Claude, who was regarded as 'the original member of the family'.
The couple were then individually charged with cruelty and taken to court and the case hung over them for 15 months.
The charges were eventually overruled by the Crown Prosecution Service in August 2014 - but only after the family had been wrongly condemned by the RSPCA for ill-treating their beloved cat.
RSPCA officials had claimed they had no 'undisclosed material' that would assist the defence or undermine its own case, but the report claims this was not true.
Later, when the couple raised their case in the media, the RSPCA wrongly said two vets advised Clause should be put down after examining him, that the family had consented and that the cat was in pain and the 'thinnest he could be'.
In the report, Mr Wooler described these claims as 'a travesty' which led to the family receiving 'distressing' comments from the public via social media, according to The Times.
He also defended the family's decision to go to the press, claiming there was a strong public interest in raising their concerns.
As previously reported, Mr Byrnes called on the Attorney General to look at the RSPCA's ability to pursue private prosecutions
Speaking in late 2014 he said: 'The RSPCA has been shocking from start to finish, treating us like criminals when all we've done is care for our cat.
'I will not forget having to stand in a dock and plead not guilty on my birthday. 'They released statements which were full of lies and I have nothing but contempt for them.
'The Attorney General should look at the RSPCA and see if it is fit to conduct these private prosecutions. From our view they are not fit for purpose.'
In a statement, the RSPCA confirmed it had provided the family with a copy of Mr Wooler's report.
A spokesman said: 'We have provided Mr and Mrs Byrnes with a copy of the RSPCA’s internal report by Mr Wooler into the case involving their elderly cat, Claude.
'We have already accepted mistakes were made in our handling of this case and in November 2014 we apologised publicly to Mr and Mrs Byrnes and their family for the upset and distress caused to them as a result. 'Our goal in commissioning the report was to learn from our mistakes. We have done this.
'Significant improvements and refinements to our processes have been made to help ensure that the RSPCA responds appropriately and proportionately to situations like this which require sensitive handling that takes account of both animal welfare and human issues.
'This includes overhauling the way animals are taken into our care, ensuring we improve the way our front line staff work with members of the public, how we manage end of life cases such as this, and bringing in new systems to handle complaints from the public.
'This will also provide an external element for inspectorate service complaints. We have also reviewed and changed our procedures on how we seek support from the police where it is necessary for their formal powers to be exercised.'
The National Police Chiefs Council has told the Parliamentary inquiry it recommends a single statutory prosecutor for animal welfare cases.
‘Brexit will let us deport terrorists and stop others from coming in’
DAVID CAMERON may be starting to regret having made the EU referendum all about our safety. In a major speech in November, the PM sought to move the debate off what he called "trade and commerce, pounds and pence" and on to "our national security".
Three days later the world was shocked by the horror of the Paris bombings. Then came the organised sexual harassment of women in Cologne and other German cities. Now the abomination in Brussels. And, all the while, a migration crisis.
Safer in? Seriously? How are we safer as part of this collapsing project? How are we more secure giving clumsy Brussels institutions more control over our affairs?
Does it make sense for the EU to create, with Turkey, a visa-free zone that stretches from the Channel to the borders of Syria and Iran?
One by one, defence and security professionals have expressed their concerns.
Major-General Julian Thompson, who commanded our land forces in the Falklands, warns that "membership of the EU weakens our national defence in very dangerous times".
Richard Walton, who until recently led Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism unit, notes collaboration against terrorism has nothing to do with Brussels, and that "membership of the EU does not really convey any benefits".
The former head of Interpol, Ronald Noble, says the EU's border policy "is like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe". Now our former intelligence chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, has written a devastating piece explaining why Britain will be safer outside the EU.
Sir Richard sees two big advantages in Brexit. First, Euro judges will no longer be able to stop us from deporting dangerous or undesirable foreigners.
Only last month, for example, we found out we couldn't expel Abu Hamza's daughter-in-law from the UK after a criminal conviction as it would violate her "fundamental status" as an EU citizen.
The second advantage is that we would have more control over who is allowed to enter Britain. The Paris and Brussels atrocities tragically showed us that many potential terrorists hold EU passports.
We know, too, that Europe has lost control of its external borders, and that extremists are using the migration crisis to enter EU states.
The rules of the game, in other words, are changing. We opened our borders to the EU. It's now clear that the EU has opened its borders to the world. That was never the deal.
No one is suggesting we stop co-operating with our European friends. Long before the EU got involved with criminal justice, we worked together through the Hague Convention, Interpol, extradition treaties and other international structures.
Nor is anyone suggesting that we leave Nato. And we certainly won't stop sharing security tips. As Sir Richard points out, we have the best intelligence capacity in the EU. This, he says, gives us a moral duty to pass on information, and he is quite right. But it doesn't follow that we should make the EU's problems our problems.
For years to come the Continent will be dealing with two massive crises: The breakdown of the euro and the breakdown of the border-free Schengen zone. Because we wisely stayed out of both schemes we have other options.
We can protect ourselves. We can turn our faces back to the wider world. We can focus on the growing markets of Asia, Africa and the Americas, instead of the stagnant eurozone.
For me, the strongest arguments for leaving the EU have always been the economic and democratic ones.
When we leave, we'll have more money to spend on our priorities, more freedom to trade with countries outside Europe and more control over our laws.
But it must now also be clear that leaving the EU will make Britain more secure. We'll be able to stop the wrong people coming in. And, if needed, we'll be able to kick them out.
Leaving the EU won't just make us wealthier and freer. It will make us safer.
Cadbury under fire for 'hiding' the reference to Easter on chocolate egg packaging
A chocolate firm has been accused of 'hiding' the word 'Easter' from the front of their chocolate egg packaging.
Cadbury was inundated with furious comments from customers on Twitter, questioning why the Easter treats simply said 'milk chocolate egg' with no mention of the Christian festival.
One said: 'Some of us want to know why Easter is hidden on the back now? Why change a good thing??' while another commented: 'Disgusting you've dropped the word 'EASTER'.
Cadbury sent endless replies to irate shoppers denying claims that they have a policy to remove the Easter slogan on packaging.
They wrote on their Twitter: 'Easter's on the back of our packaging with the other product details. 'It's not on the front as the seasonal design shows what it is. 'As a seasonal treat the eggs will always be linked with Easter.'
However customers remained unconvinced, accusing the company of 'hiding' any mention of Easter on the back.
One consumer, with the Twiter handle @juliertid seemed to see the funny side however, and wrote: 'We both know how it works next time santa will be awol from the selection boxes..'
The word 'Easter' is not included on the front of the packaging for their Mini Eggs Giant Egg or their Dairy Milk Buttons Egg, but 'Happy Easter' is branded on a special edition of the Dairy Milk chocolate bar.
Nestle's Kit Kat Chunky Egg and Smarties Egg Hunt Pack also do not include the word Easter on the front - though some Galaxy eggs bear the slogan 'Easter pleasure' on the front.
Some Christian groups have claimed that major brands are 'uncomfortable' with the Christian faith.
David Marshall, who is the founder of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, accused brands of 'censoring' the Easter tradition. 'It's deeply disappointing and shameful that some of the biggest companies are censoring the centuries' old tradition,' he said. 'It shows they're insensitive and uncomfortable with the Christian faith.'
The company, which aims to reintroduce traditional Easter eggs back into the mainstream market, recently commissioned a poll that showed four in five people want to keep the word 'Easter' on their eggs.
Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, said: 'It is interesting that there seems to be a real resistance to removing the word 'Easter' from these gifts. 'Perhaps people understand that the festival is religious and do not want to see it turned completely secular. 'Whatever the reasons, it is important to remember that at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.'
A spokeswoman for Cadbury said: 'We do not have a policy to drop Easter from our eggs.' She added that the word Easter was included on the side and back of their packaging.
A Nestle spokesperson added: 'There has been no deliberate decision to drop the word Easter from our products and the name is still widely used at Nestle.'
What love of the "Countryfile" programme tells us about the real Britain
Our ducks are back, just in time for Easter. My wife gave a little sigh of romance when she saw them bobbing on the brook below our bedroom window.
This pair, we believe, have been coming to us for five years. If all goes according to routine, they will produce several young and we will see those ducklings chase after their mother, their fluffy bottoms waggling in the water.
Their numbers will dwindle (Mr Mink is a hungry fellow) but a few should survive and eventually the ducks will fly off, squawking their adieus over the flood meadow where Farmer Watkins’s cattle have been chewing on turnip.
Up, over the brow the ducks will flap their wings, past where the sheep graze and donkeys frolic, in the direction of Brockhampton and beyond to our kingdom’s northern lights. Those ducks are wild. They are free. That is in part why they delight us — and why we envy them.
Living in the Herefordshire countryside, we do not have much in the way of amenities. There is no pub or petrol station or 24-hour burger joint for miles. We are denied — spared? — the orange glow of street lights, the nee-naw of police cars, the throb and surge of city life.
Some would say our family does not live in ‘the real world’ and it would certainly be hard to call our locality ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘in the mix’ or whatever the phrase is.
In our local town of Ross-on-Wye (six miles downriver), you will not see many women in high heels or skimpy tops. Hardly any lads wear baseball caps back-to-front or walk down the hill with a pimp roll, yo-ing one another in Harlem accents. The Herefordshire burr is rather gentler on the ear. We’re a backwater, agreed.
Mind you, what is real life? We heard a lot this week about ‘one-nation politics’ and our ‘one-nation Government’ — phrases to evoke a united culture, citizens striving in a spirit of shared endeavour.
But are the leaders of our public life, from their metropolitan perches, entitled to talk of ‘one nation’? Do they and their intimates understand or even like the country they seek to govern?
Let me offer two recent snapshots to pull that question into sharper focus.
The first is at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End, a venue of — and for — the elite. It was the interval during a play called People, Places And Things, a collaboration between the state-subsidised Royal National Theatre and a trendy company named Headlong.
The story is about drug and alcohol addiction and a middle-class girl who hates her suburban parents. Its dialogue is polluted by profanities and violent unhappiness.
Not that the language during the interval was much better. These prosperous London theatregoers, well-educated but slovenly in their dress, brayed at each other in mockney voices about this ‘f****** great show’ and how ‘f****** true to life’ it was.
At the end of the play (which I heartily disliked), there was whooping and aggressive applause. It was as if this privileged audience was addicted to the unhappiness we had just endured.
My other snapshot is from the previous evening. High tea had been cleared away, the family dog was snoozing on the rug and Dad was wearing his Sunday pullover.
For the next hour, on TV across the land and watched by millions of viewers, was BBC1’s Countryfile — a serene, informative Nature programme.
There was film of the Sussex wood that gave A. A. Milne the setting for Winnie-The-Pooh, and a sequence about woodpeckers. Am I describing the scene in front of your TV?
There is a good chance I am, for Countryfile is the best-watched show on the BBC. A few Sundays ago it was viewed by almost three million more people than the heavily promoted bodice-ripper War And Peace.
The first lesson of this is that we British love the countryside. Correction, we British electors — the governed populace, the silent majority — love the countryside. Our ruling elite is less keen and seems set on destroying great swathes of it.
In the coming quarter, according to Natural England, we will make some 855 million visits to the countryside. More than 40 per cent of us make regular visits to the great outdoors and many will go to see a National Trust property or a bird sanctuary.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has a million members and the National Trust has more than four million, quite dwarfing the combined membership of our political parties.
What these figures prove is that the 21st-century Briton feels a deep urge for nature. This is something long reflected by our writers and thinkers. One of Britain’s great contributions to international cultural development has been the landscape garden, an 18th-century notion of the rural idyll.
In France, the ruling class aspired to control Nature, ordering it into geometric, formal gardens. How arrogant they were. In due course — surprise, surprise — they had a revolution.
In Britain a more subtle, naturalistic approach prevailed. The nobility hesitated to impose a rigid view on its surroundings. Capability Brown and other designers worked with the landscape’s natural features to mould a relaxing vision of Arcadia.
There was room in this idyll for the peasantry and their livestock — and even for the occasional Roman-style temple.
The expression "rus in urbe" (the country in the town) sprang up to describe the happy projection of the countryside in the middle of cities.
In literature, some of our greatest talents were formed by the world around them. Think of Wordsworth, inspired by Grasmere; ‘peasant poet’ John Clare by his childhood home in Northants; or of poor, doomed Rupert Brooke hankering from abroad for his home in Grantchester, Cambridgeshire.
‘Just now the lilac is in bloom, all before my little room; and in my flower-beds, I think, smile the carnation and the pink,’ wrote Brooke more than a century ago.
The country ideal for millions of our fellow citizens today is not of a Manhattan-style loft in trendy East London. It is a wisteria-clad cottage in the shires — just the sort of vision modernist architects loathe.
Not all gardeners would agree with the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who described weeds as ‘lovely’ — but they would accept the wonders of Nature and the awe they can make us feel at something we might call Creation.
By that we may not mean the Almighty knocking up the world in six short days but we do mean a power beyond comprehension — a force greater than puny mankind. Such thoughts, alas, do not fit the ambitions of today’s secularist elite.
My wife likes Countryfile because ‘nothing bad ever happens on it’. It is just as well she seldom comes with me to the modern theatre, where, in my duties as the Mail’s drama critic, I am exposed weekly to an insistent vision of modern society as urban hell.
Hardly any modern plays show the countryside. My mother likes Countryfile because she knows there will be no effing and blinding, and is interested in the extended weather forecast.
Some viewers enjoy seeing the baby lambs, while others find themselves bewitched by presenter Helen Skelton’s smile, blonde Ellie Harrison or hunky Tom Heap, who last Sunday evening was seen bouncing on a boat off the north Scottish coast.
He was asking if wind turbines kill wild birds. This being Countryfile, we were spared any scenes to distress us. Had this been at Wyndham’s Theatre, there would probably have been slow-motion footage of a puffin being decapitated by one of the turbine rotor blades. They would have wanted to make it ‘real’.
Is it not wonderfully reassuring that Countryfile is so successful?
I bet the BBC’s grungier creatives are sent into a fury that this weekly magazine programme, whose presenters include the resolutely uncool John Craven, pulls in many millions more viewers than those dark film noir Scandinavian police serials, or those anguished documentaries about social deprivation, child abuse and so forth.
Such programmes are left trailing in the ratings by a Sunday evening trundle through the shires! How the Alan Yentobs, Danny Cohens and their fellow TV creatives must seethe.
These types devote their lives to ramming social concerns down our throats, to cramming our screens with politically filtered stuff about inequality and multi-culturalism — but the one thing the British public really enjoys is a programme about marsh warblers and New Forest ponies, and John Craven at a farm fence talking about milk yields.
This Britain, the Britain of ideology-free, innocent rural hankerings, receives surprisingly little attention.
Many politicians shun this world. They make their names by sating the peeved, the dispossessed and, of course, Britain’s millions of ‘victims’ (who are quite often victims of their own failings).
Sadly, officialdom rarely courts the Countryfile vote. Its middle-class viewers — uncomplaining, uncomplicated, stoical, decent — are seldom helped by Arts Council funding, or initiatives by local government departments or quangos.
Their voice is almost never heard on Radio 4’s Today programme. If they try to get on to radio phone-ins, they will probably be dismissed as ‘swivel-eyed loons’ by the likes of Lord Feldman, the Conservative party chairman and tennis partner of the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, our elite cultural outlets, gripped by the dogma of egalitarianism, continue to highlight human misery over normality. That is what was going on at Wyndham’s Theatre. By amplifying grottiness, they normalise it and thereby make everyone else’s life grottier.
They create the impression that modern Britain is a country of drug addicts rather than cheerful, sensible Countryfile-watchers.
Public policymakers either fall for this lie or encourage it for reasons of political dogma. (I suspect the latter).
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, has described the disconnect between Westminster and the realities of country life.
As an example, he says successive governments have made life more difficult for private motorists, but don’t realise how difficult it is to get about by public transport when you live halfway up a mountain in Wales or need to recharge the battery on an electric car in the middle of Exmoor.
Bonner says: ‘Repeated Westminster decisions mean you are very unlikely to have a bank, doctor’s, shop or Post Office in your village.’
Town-dwellers have 45 per cent more money spent on their councils than do those who live in the countryside. Urban police forces receive disproportionately more.
These things don’t happen by accident. There is a political agenda here, and in my view it is aimed at urbanising the wildness of the rural mind. Typically, officialdom expects farmers to fill in endless pages of bureaucratic forms online — yet fails to help them get an adequate broadband service.
Rural opinions on everything from bureaucratic overload to pest control, milk prices to ramblers’ rights, are ignored by the metropolitan power-set.
On the other hand, childish, sentimentalised views about badgers (which infect cattle with TB) and bats (which destroy buildings) and foxes (which kill chickens) result in policies that cause dairy farmers, country churchgoers and egg producers real difficulties.
Country residents who protest at new housing estates in their villages are dismissed as Nimbys.
I once heard that fool John Prescott sneer that there was plenty of space for millions of new houses in Britain because he had seen the empty fields from the back of his Jaguar. He seemed not to understand that fields are needed for the production of food.
Now, those same fields are under threat from vast solar panels. And the Cameron Government has made it easier for developers (some of whom give millions of pounds to the Tory party) to ignore local views and build houses on virgin land.
The Green Belt, though supported by the quiet majority of voters, is under daily threat. The Council for the Protection of Rural England believes that 226,000 houses have been allowed on it since 2012.
Another problem is the bien-pensant urbanism of the social media.
You do not have to wander far on Twitter, Mumsnet and other online forums to find the same dismissive attitude to anyone who departs from right-on mantras, particularly on immigration and climate change.
This is not just nastily intolerant. It is also bad politics. I suggest any politician who gave voice to the quiet majority would be the politician who received that majority’s votes.
Of course, politicians must protect oppressed minorities but politics has now reached the bizarre point where, on matters such as immigration, taxes, Europe, gender issues and human rights for terror suspects, it is the majority’s view that is being suppressed. What utter madness!
This Easter, millions will escape our cities. They will do so for a lungful of refreshing country air and to escape, as the 17th-century writer William Diaper put it: ‘Faction, Spleen and Noise.’ Yet they will also be seeking something more elusive: the untrammelled, the untamed, the inexplicable.
When we visit the countryside — as Countryfile so beautifully captures — we throw off the constraints of the modern city with its brutish aesthetics, brusque manners and arrogant assumption that everything must be marshalled by modernity.
There is, happily, no fashion in Nature. The countryside can never be conquered.
Appreciating this brings a strong sense of liberation. We can but dream of being as free as the dear old ducks outside my window.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.