|NEWSLETTER NUMBER 28 JANUARY 1992||
TEL: 0293 786166
RSPCA MEMBERS WATCHDOG OCTOBER 1987 TO JANUARY 1992 AIMS
To obtain justice for ALL members who have been treated unjustly.
A FURTHER CAUSE FOR CONCERN
RSPCA members will have read in the national press the item about Robin Webb’s resignation from the RSPCA Council just before the Council members were to consider a motion to remove him from the Council. A motion to expel him from the Society will be proposed at the January Council meeting.
Whilst not wishing to comment at this stage about the reasons for the Council’s actions, serious criticisms must be leveled against the way in which such disciplinary procedures are conducted. For that reason we have decided to publish Robin Webb’s letter of resignation. We find it shocking that Robin Webb was not allowed to call witnesses to help him to refute the charge that he was "unfit to remain a member of the Council". On what authority did the Chairman, Mrs. Joan Felthouse make such a ruling? In Rule VIII (5) it is stated "The member shall have the opportunity of submitting ANY (our emphasis) explanation either personally or in writing to the Council."
Under the rule of natural justice or compassion for the accused, if Robin Webb wished to submit an explanation by using witnesses he should have been allowed to do so. If Mrs. Felthouse cannot appreciate this - she should resign.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE ANIMALS and to avoid legal action prejudicial to the interests of the Society, the Council’s disciplinary procedures must be reviewed and reformed. Whilst the trend in this country is for more openness, more accountability and more acceptance of criticisms
THE RSPCA COUNCIL SEEMS ENTRENCHED IN A FEUDAL PAST.
RSPCA members who complain to Watchdog are NOT "Extremists" or "Reds under the beds" or "Anarchists". They are intelligent people respected in their local communities who will NEVER accept the unjust treatment they have received. Disciplinary measures inflicted on members by the Council reflect on the individuals in their localities. Therefore, to inflict these punishments WITHOUT RECOURSE TO APPEAL is wrong.
COUNCIL MEMBERS RECEIVE THIS WATCHDOG AND WE WOULD WELCOME SOME SIGN FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS THAT WHAT IS BEING DONE TO MANY MEMBERS BY THEM IS WRONG.
The Society seems to be a breeding ground for witch hunts. In 1980, Richard Ryder was the victim - Regional meetings were held with the sole purpose of planning the removal of "the canker in our midst" as he and his colleagues were described. What a waste of time - time that should have been spent caring for ANIMALS.
In previous Watchdogs we have listed caring RSPCA members who have been refused branch membership, expelled from branches, debarred from branch committees and expelled from the Society. The last RSPCA President and three Vice Presidents were driven to resign.
WHICH COUNCIL MEMBER IN 1992 WILL TAKE THE LEAD IN SHOWING A COMPASSIONATE APPROACH TO MEMBERSHIP PROBLEMS?
"We want to recruit
more volunteers to help with this work and to take some of the strain
off hard pressed branch committees."
Isn’t it about time that Peter Wright found out just how badly volunteers are treated in the RSPCA. Of course more animal welfare work could be done if there were more volunteers but is it not morally wrong to ask for volunteers before consulting Watchdog on areas where there is a gross abuse of power?
RSPCA director of operations Peter Wright
We have in previous Watchdog newsletters expressed the views of many RSPCA members that BRANCH FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS SHOULD BE PUBLISHED IN THE SOCIETY’S ANNUAL REPORT.
By just publishing money held by the national Society, no true picture of the wealth of the RSPCA is given to the public and no assurance is given to members that branch funds are supervised.
In December, RSPCA members complained to Watchdog that Central TV had broadcast a news item stating that the heating at the RSPCA RADCLIFFE SHELTER would be turned off as there was not enough money for the animals.
WATCHDOG WAS SENT THE SHELTER ACCOUNTS
We are not financial experts but it seems to us that the Shelter has very considerable funds of £1,258,636
SO WHY MUST THE ANIMALS BE IN THE COLD??????????????
WILL COUNCIL MEMBERS ASK MRS. HURST TO EXPLAIN.
RSPCA theft woman jailed.
TREASURER Mary Roberts stole £89,000 from the RSPCA and gave it to the vet’s practice where she worked.
Roberts, 48, of Chester, was yesterday jailed for nine months, plus 16 months suspended. She admitted theft and false accounting.
A MEMBER WRITES
The following extracts are taken from RSPCA members letters to Watchdog.
"Much energy, enthusiasm and expertise is given (via the Inspectors) to the rescues of individual animals as it should be for every animal in need should be given the best possible help and these rescues are well publicised in the press and in the Society’s magazines but we do not seem to see the same efforts being used to stop ‘the mass cruelties’ such as those taking place in experimental laboratories, puppy farms, intensive farming practices and the transport of live animals to the Continent, to mention a few. Why?
Surely it is not too large a problem for the RSPCA to cackle - or are they afraid of getting on the wrong side of those involved in these trades or does money come into it somewhere? The Society does condemn these various practices by saying ‘they do not approve’ but this condemnation so often sounds half hearted and they do not seem to realise they have to continue making their point, time after time, until some notice is taken of it."
"Once again, Watchdog highlights the lack of genuine care for the feeling of animals. In the ‘Sad story’ it is so obvious that to these officials, the abiding by stupid little rules is of far more importance than making the last days of one little creature happy - who just for a little while can enjoy what it has been denied all its life - the love of a caring human."
Fish neglect case dropped
Western Morning News.
By BRIAN INCH
THE RSPCA went to court yesterday to persecute a man for neglecting his pet fish - then withdrew the case on legal advice.
Paul Oaten, 31, of Fore street, Camelford, was to have faced a charge of abandoning two tropical fish and a cockatiel.
But he did not appear and magistrates at Bodmin were asked to withdraw the two allegations. They were told Mr. Oaten had been cautioned by the RSPCA.
Mr. Oaten had been summoned with having abandoned both the fish and the cockatiel without reasonable cause or excuse in such circumstances that the animals were likely to have caused them unnecessary suffering.
John Evans, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said that because of personal circumstances, it seemed appropriate to withdraw the charges against Mr. Oaten.
RSPCA spokeswoman Kathryn Donachie later said the case had been withdrawn after fresh legal advice had been received from solicitors.
"On the information we received, which we cannot tell you about, we felt we could not successfully go ahead," she said.
"The cost factor was another of the reasons for the withdrawal of the case."
She declined to say how much it had cost the RSPCA to go to court and then withdraw.
Cornered at home
SIR - Yesterday I was the recipient of a (to me) new style of charity fund raising which I found deeply disturbing.
Someone rang my home and asked for me by name. The caller informed me that he was from the RSPCA and that they needed to recruit more inspectors. He then asked if I would pledge a standing order to help their work. When I said no, he asked instead for a one-off donation, and as I had been feeling unwell all day and only wanted to be rid of him, I pledged some money.
I feel that this is a very bad practice and must not be allowed to become standard procedure in this country. If used on elderly, sick, or vulnerable people, it could almost be called threatening.
By its very nature, charity is giving what you wish, to whom you wish, when you wish. Pinning people down in their own homes, in my view, is tantamount to begging by arm twisting.
(Mrs.) SYLVIA HODGKINSON
Bucks Nov 1991
YET MORE REASONS FOR PUBLISHING THE FUNDS HELD IN BRANCHES
Every penny held unnecessarily by branches is promoting cruelty to animals.
£££Money £££ Money ££££ Money ££££ Money Money MONEY £££
Best wishes to all for 1992. Thank you for all your help and support. We could not have survived to enter our FIFTH YEAR of publication without you. Our newsletter is produced by amateurs but we are as convinced now as we were in October 1987 that many members have suffered grave injustices that must be redressed. As Richard Adams said in 1980 - the animals are waiting looking over our shoulders to come in from torment and distress LET US ALL WORK IN HARMONY FOR THEIR RELEASE. WILL THE COUNCIL LISTEN?
This month our thoughts go to June and Graham Page, the victims of injustice since 1980
HON. SEC. MARGARET HOUSE.
A letter from an RSPCA member in REGION 8, concerned about the treatment of members.
What name would you give to a committee who arranged a meeting, canceled it, then failed to inform people. The result for one person, an unnecessary journey and a twenty pound taxi fare.
A committee who declined to accept application for branch membership by long serving and dedicated RSPCA members, one of whom had served twenty five years on another branch before moving away.
A committee who did not give any reasons for refusing branch membership.
A committee who voted off at the AGM one of its most committed, enthusiastic and hard working members.
Over half of that committee’s members did not attend regularly, some not at all, yet voted out, or failed to vote for a member who attended every meeting and every fund raising event.
A committee who co opted a member on to help them then told this person and others two minutes before the vote at the AGM in 1991 that they were not eligible for nomination, this after their nomination papers had been with the Secretary for one month. Incidentally, the person whom this happened to traveled over sixty miles from visiting a poor elderly relative to attend the AGM.
How many people have been refused branch membership by this committee.
What do you call a committee whose actions have led to other members resigning in disgust. People who believe in the RSPCA and want to help it in its fight against cruelty to animals in one of the cruelty blackspots of the British Isles.
You call the Committee
that’s what you call it."
We have left out the name of the branch and the name of the member who wrote the letter but other RSPCA members have told two national Council members the name of the branch. We receive many complaints about branches in Region 8.
The Council member for this Region is:
Mr. ANELAY HART
The Regional Manager is:-
MRS. SUE MACE.
Mrs. Mace knows the name of this Branch because RSPCA members have complained to her. SHE told them to complain to the Branch Co-Ordinator
MR. CHARLES de-BUES
WHAT HAS HE DONE?
THIS BRANCH that rejects members had EXCESS INCOME of £6,331.17 last year UNSPENT IN THIS CRUELTY BLACK SPOT HOW MANY ANIMALS COULD HAVE BEEN HELPED WITH THIS MONEY???????
DOES ANYONE CARE? WE THINK THERE IS TOO MUCH BUREAUCRACY. WHEN OH WHEN are complaints going to be investigated.
The text of the following letter has been reproduced below the images to make it easier to read.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
76 High Street,
Mr. P R Davies
R S P C A
11th December 1991
Dear Mr. Davies,
I have recently spent a substantial amount of time considering the resolution which the Officers of Council, meeting on 5th November, decided should be put to the December meeting of the full Council. I was, incidentally, rather surprised that no Officer of Council actually proposed or seconded the motion as it appears on the agenda.
In view of the Officers’ actions I feel compelled to make the following observations.
1. I have at no time been approached by anyone representing the Society to ask for input from me on this subject. If the Society had a genuine wish to obtain the full story such an omission is quite incomprehensible.
2. I was elected by the membership and feel that they should be allowed to decide, at the 1992 elections, whether or not I am suitable to remain a member of the Council. My contributions to, and attendance at, Council and Standing Committee meetings can prevail on their own merits.
3. I did not inform the Council of my position as Press Officer for the ALF as the post is a voluntary one, as are all my contributions to animal protection. To my knowledge, the Council has only ever expressed a wish to discuss members relationships with other animal - related organisations which carry financial rewards.
4. At no time have I criticised the Society publicly nor have I ever suggested that it should support or condone unlawful activities. Quite the contrary. I have always argued, for example, that the Inspectorate works with and within the law and that the Society, as its employers, could not be seen to take an equivocal view.
5. However, I have always pointed to historical precedents where the law was either wrong or inadequate. It was a crime in some countries to help a slave to escape. It was a crime in other countries to damage concentration camps. Who now would say that such actions were wrong? I feel confident that history will show that it was equally justifiable for some people, acting through principled conscience, to follow the higher moral law in pursuit of the alleviation, and eventual ending, of animal suffering.
6. I have at no time been charged with Animal Liberation-type activities and most certainly have never been convicted of any crime that could affect my fitness to be a member of the Council.
7. I was appalled to learn, only last night, that the Chairman of Council has apparently ruled that I may not call witnesses. Surely if it is being claimed that I am unfit to remain on the Council evidence should be allowed from those who consider otherwise. One of my witnesses was to have been a minister who led prayers at the Society’s 150th ‘Royal Anniversary’ service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey last year. Has the Society, through its Chairman, lost all sense of justice?
Notwithstanding the above, I hold the RSPCA in great affection and esteem. Therefore, I have no desire to enter into an acrimonious and costly dispute which would serve only to harm the animal protection movement as a whole. That would be disastrous for the animals who should be the prime objects of our concerns.
Accordingly, I have reached a decision which will, I trust, mitigate the harm already done by those who refuse to recognise the right of personal conviction.
Please accept, with immediate effect, my resignation from the Council of the Society under Rule VIII(1).
I hope that the Council will accept this to be the honorable course of action and consequently place no impediments should I wish to offer the final decision to the full membership by standing for election to Council next year.
Robin L Webb
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