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Richard Meade
"They are using the excuse that they might hunt to keep them out"
 real 28k

Friday, 15 June, 2001, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Charity attacked in hunting row
hunting
Mr Meade was suspected of recruiting hunt supporters
A hunt supporter expelled from the RSPCA has accused the charity of "postcode prejudice" against people from the countryside.

Olympic showjumper Richard Meade told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "People who don't even hunt have been kept out because they have addresses in the countryside."

But John Rolls, of the RSPCA, told Today that the triple Olympic gold medallist was behind a "damaging campaign" to recruit hunt supporters and reverse the society's opposition to hunting.


Will the day come when membership is confined to the urban vegetarian, leading, along a hard pavement, a non-meat eating dog for its weekly session with a canine counsellor?

Sir John Mortimer QC
Mr Meade, the chairman of the pro-hunt Countryside Animal Welfare Group, dismissed the allegation as "a smokescreen for people who want to keep out country people".

He said the RSPCA's ruling council was "dominated by militant vegetarians and vegans".

But Mr Rolls said the charity was a "broad church" that included "country people" on the ruling council.

Rumpole of the Bailey creator Sir John Mortimer QC, who came out of retirement to defend Mr Meade, said Thursday's expulsion was an example of the charity's surrender to the animal rights movement.

Pro-hunt Sir John, who retired from legal work 14 years ago, gave his services free.

"If the great Olympian Richard Meade is to be expelled, it will show a drift in the Royal Society towards a political extreme," he said.


The RSPCA is a democratic organisation

RSPCA chairman, Malcolm Phipps
"An attack on fox hunters, if permitted, must logically lead to the expulsion of shooters and fishers.

"Will the day come when membership is confined to the urban vegetarian, leading, along a hard pavement, a non-meat eating dog for its weekly session with a canine counsellor?

"This vision is no doubt absurd - but this most inappropriate expulsion, if allowed, will prove nothing about fox hunting.

"It will merely show that those who speak most loudly about animal rights have often lost sight of the facts that there are human rights also."

The charity's chairman, Malcolm Phipps, said: "The RSPCA is a democratic organisation but clearly concerted efforts to join the society for any overriding reason other than animal welfare makes a mockery of this democracy."


I don't see any inconsistency in supporting animal welfare and taking part in field sports

Richard Meade
Mr Phipps added that he did not consider the expulsion to be a "town versus country issue".

The RSPCA went to the High Court in January to clarify its membership rules and has delayed admitting about 600 applicants it believes belong to the CAWG.

Mr Meade joined the RSPCA in 1970, four years before he was awarded an OBE, but left later in the decade. He was readmitted four years ago.

Speaking after the court case in January, Mr Meade said he would be "shocked and disappointed" if his membership was revoked.

"I have spent my life promoting the support of animals and have always supported the objectives of the society," he said.

"I don't see any inconsistency in supporting animal welfare and taking part in field sports."

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Public back hunt ban, suggests poll
04 Dec 98 | UK Politics
Stars back hunt ban campaign
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