TV's Clarissa in call on RSPCA cash

Clarissa Dickson WrightBroadcaster and food writer Clarissa Dickson Wright has called for people to stop donating to the RSPCA over its "threatening policies".

The Two Fat Ladies star and countryside campaigner said the charity had "lost its way" and "leaves a bitter taste in the mouth" as it pursues prosecutions against people it suspects of animal cruelty.
The cook, who has championed country sports, urged the charity to concentrate on protecting domestic animals following allegations, which it denies, that it has increased the number of cases brought to court in order to boost fundraising.

She told the Daily Telegraph: "They have got plenty of money, I think that it would do them no harm if people stopped donating and told them why they had stopped to see if they changed their threatening policies."

She added: "The charity was set up, and very well set up, for the protection of domestic animals.

"Now they spend money that comes from people who in many cases are hard pushed to come up with it - old ladies and things like that - in prosecuting hunts, prosecuting people who they think are trapping foxes, people who are keeping out rabbits.

"They are not concentrating on what they should be doing, on what they do well. It has been taken over by the politicos at the top."

Her comments follow the refusal of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to take up the role of vice-patron of the RSPCA earlier this month.

The charity was heavily criticised last year after it was revealed that it had spent £326,000 on legal action against a fox hunt.

Critics claimed the ''staggering'' expense of bringing the prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds was a waste of money donated to the charity by members of the public.

The Countryside Alliance supported Ms Dickson Wright's remarks, claiming that the RSPCA had become "a political campaigning organisation with a militant animal rights agenda".

Executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said: "It is wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on political prosecutions and campaigns which do little, if anything, to improve animal welfare. I am sure those people who donate or leave legacies to the RSPCA don't expect their money to be wasted on playing political games.

"People should consider whether their money would be better used by other animal charities or even the RSPCA's local branches which are self-funding, separate charities that continue to focus on their role in rescuing neglected and abandoned animals."

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "Prosecution of those who break the law and are cruel to animals has been part of the RSPCA's role since it was established in 1824.

"On a daily basis, our inspectors see unimaginable cruelty to animals across the country. In the vast
majority of cases they provide advice and guidance but in a tiny minority of cases - less than 2% of the complaints of cruelty dealt with by them - legal action is necessary.

"Our inspectors receive the overwhelming support of the public for this work. To suggest these hard-working officers are pursuing a political agenda is, frankly, offensive to the work they are undertaking."

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