is the newsletter published by and for members of the RSPCA. Because of the
deep discontent that it shows within the membership we feel that it should have
wider publicity than it currently receives. We have maintained the content accurately,
but have lost some of the formatting. Past editions will be added as time permits.
We hope that publishing this will do some good and lead to a much needed reform
of the society. contains links that might be of further interest
|NEWSLETTER NUMBER 17 FEBRUARY 1990
TEL: 0293 786166
THE 1980’s A DECADE OF SHAME – Nearly 1½ million living creatures killed since 1983 over 5 ½ thousand members leave the RSPCA
1980 The year started with an Extraordinary General Meeting held on February 23rd. A motion of no confidence in the Council was proposed by Mrs. Joan Felthouse and seconded by Mrs. Rachael Smith and was defeated. (Interesting to speculate why Mrs. Felthouse and Mrs. Smith were so keen to stop other members emulating their example that they and other Council Officers were prepared to spend thousands of pounds of money give for animals to circulate every member in 1988 condemning the calling of an E.G.M.)
At the Annual General Meeting held in Manchester in June there were two events worth remembering – the stirring and inspiring speech by the President Elect, Mr. Richard Adams and the ill advised walk out by several members (some of whom sit on the present Council) during an interesting talk by John Bryant and all because their resolution was not put on the Agenda.
In the background, a senior member of staff was writing to Mrs. Felthouse and Mr. Lopez (Chairman Portsmouth Branch) instructing them on questions and resolutions they should put to their Regional Conferences (the opening ploy in a move to take over the Council). Meanwhile, Mrs. Felthouse was busy circulating letters to branch secretaries (using branch funds – money given for animals) promoting Mrs. Cope, Mrs. R. Smith, Mr. Tasker and Mr. Jacobsen for the Council elections whilst referring to those who disagreed with her at the E.G.M. as the "disgusting bovver boy element".
Mrs. Felthouse, Mr. Lopez and others unspecified had a further use for money which the public had given to relieve the suffering of animals. They spent branch funds on seeking advice from one of London’s most expensive lawyers, Lord Goodman. They wanted him to prepare resolutions for the A.G.M. for them. One piece of advice they chose to ignore:-
"NO PERSON WHO HAS STOOD FOR COUNCIL AND FAILED TO BE ELECTED CAN BE CO OPTED."
An unsuccessful attempt was made to expel Richard Ryder from the Society on the grounds that he had brought great discredit on the RSPCA. Nothing changes does it? Richard was defended by the famous solicitor Sir David Napley and sympathetic members contributed to the cost. At Richard’s request, Angela Walder organised, at short notice, a demo outside the Club where his trial was taking place.
Members were assured that "Annual budgets of income and expenditure are closely examined and adjusted and monitored." (Interesting in view of the events of 1982)
Graham and June Page began their long struggle to seek redress for the injustice they suffered as a result of giving voluntary services to the Notts East RSPCA branch. A struggle that is still continuing a decade later.
LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1981 THE PLOT THICKENS In order to gain control of the Council and put in people acceptable to "Big Business" (according to one of those involved in the exercise) a senior member of staff set up a very hush hush meeting in the Regent Centre Hotel, London. Mrs. Felthouse was one of those invited to the meeting. A letter (drawn up by the same member of staff) was approved and it was agreed that it should be sent to all branch secretaries for circulation to all branch members. This absurd letter stated:-
"Rumours abound that the RSPCA is seen to be ripe for the picking and the next prime target for a take over."
It is a tragedy that members were willing to believe this because no proof was produced that this was so.
At the Annual General Meeting, Dr. House proposed a successful amendment of importance in the struggle to make the RSPCA a democratic organisation. It was:-
"BRANCHES SHALL NOT UNREASONABLY REFUSE MEMBERSHIP TO ANY INDIVIDUAL WISHING TO JOIN."
££££££££ Number of animals killed not published in Annual Report ££££££££
1982 At the Annual General Meeting, a vote of no confidence in Miss Janet Fookes and Mr. Anelay Hart was carried by 214 in favour and 60 against with 60 abstentions.
Earlier, in March, Mr. Julian Hopkins ceased to be the Executive Director. THREE MONTHS EARLIER ON December 14th 1981, Mr. Anelay Hart had issued a Press statement saying :-
"We disassociate ourselves from critical comments about the Executive Director, Mr. Julian Hopkins and wish to express our utmost confidence in him."
Whatever happened to make Anelay Hart change his mind? Did Julian Hopkins become a vegetarian and did that upset "Big Business"?
The Society’s President, Richard Adams, resigned in protest against a notice of a motion on the Council Agenda to cut short the 3 year term of office held out to him in the invitation from the Council in 1980 upon which he accepted the office of President.
SINCE THEN, THE SOCIETY HAS BEEN WITHOUT A PRESIDENT.
What a disaster for the RSPCA to lose Richard Adams. Judging by his speech at the 1980 A.G.M., he would have been a great President.
The Vice Presidents, Lady Dowding, Lord Houghton and Clive Hollands resigned in support of Richard Adams and in protest against a parallel move to change the conditions of their appointments.
Mrs. Joan Felthouse stood as a candidate in the June elections to the Council. A formal objection to her candidacy was lodged by Dr. And Mrs. House on the grounds that she was in receipt of payment of £260 a year and this, according to the Rules made her ineligible to stand for Council. The Legal Officer submitted a report in which he said:-
"The matter could have been put beyond argument if the entries in the accounts had varied in amount and if there had bee a formal presentation of invoices to the branch." ??????
Mrs. Felthouse WAS NOT ELECTED BY THE MEMBERSHIP but despite this, she was put on the Council by Council members to fill a vacancy.
in the year, the Council’s Branches Committee, WHICH INCLUDED MRS. FELTHOUSE,
voted to recommend that Dr. And Mrs. House be expelled from the RSPCA. The recommendation
was never carried out and the proposer and seconder of the motion left the Council
shortly afterwards. The solicitor acting for Mr. And Mrs. House tried without
success to obtain a written list of the complaints that had been made against
Dr. And Mrs. House and he advised them to sue the Council. Dr. House died before
legal action could be taken.
£££££ 163,087 LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1983 In spite of a letter signed by two sitting Council members, Mrs. Felthouse and Mr. Forster amongst others which was circulated to all branch secretaries warning of the drastic effect it would have on the Society if candidates of their choice were not elected to the Council. MEMBERS WERE BEGINNING TO QUESTION WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Angela Walder was elected to the Council. It is interesting to note that whereas she had to have thousands of votes (3,292) in order to get elected, the Regional Representative, elected for Region 6 in the same year, had just 9 votes to secure him a place on the Council. No wonder being a Regional Representative is such a popular job, it is a seat on the Council for life. We wonder how many national Council members will switch to being Regional Reps.
We question the ethics of Mrs. Felthouse and Mr. Forster in signing a circular letter promoting candidates of their choice whilst they were themselves members of the Council. A breath of fresh air was also brought to the Council by the choice of Mrs. Fulcher for Treasurer.
MEMBERSHIP 26,029 (the first year for which we have figures)
£££££ 156,714 LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1984 At the Annual General Meeting, R. Howard and S. Silcock proposed a successful motion that the Council should adopt a humane diet. It fell on deaf ears. Had the Council adopted this resolution, even for only a short time, it would have e been an extremely effective protest against the unacceptable treatment of food animals leading to health hazards for humans.
Following the election of Angela Walter to the Council, the annual letter from Lopez and Co. To all branches became quite hysterical. "INSPECTORS ARE AT RISK" it said "SO ARE BRANCH FUNDS", The letter expressed great fear that workers for animals’ rights were trying harder than ever to gain control of the RSPCA Council. Listen to this:-
"THEIR METHODS ARE NOT OUR METHODS. THEIR DELIGHT IN DISRUPTIVE ACTIVITY OFTEN BRINGING CONFRONTATION WITH THE POLICE IS CONTRARY TO OUR METHODS."
Is it not time that RSPCA members asked Mr. Lopez, Mrs. Felthouse and Co. Just what are THEIR methods? Intolerance? The spending of charitable funds on expensive lawyers? A Mr. F. R. Miles was co opted to to the Council. We know that A. Stones worked for Woolworths, but who on earth is F. R. Miles??????
1985 By this time, two things were apparent. Members were encouraged by the presence of Angela on the Council and felt that progress could be made in getting their views heard. At the A.G.M., they questioned the investment of RSPCA funds in companies that experiment on or abused animals, Many members became deeply concerned about what appeared to be the persecution of some of the most dedicated voluntary workers Looking back, some mernbers described this period as the beginning of a "REIGN OF TERROR". In November ANNE JENKINS was refused branch membership by the Hants and Surrey Border RSPCA branch committee. Anne had been a member of the branch for 25 years, FOR 11 OF THOSE YEARS SHE HAD BEEN BRANCH SECRETARY. She had resigned as secretary and whilst’ she was in hospital with a broken leg, her membership lapsed. On re applying – she was rejected WITHOUT ANY REASON BEING GIVEN. She had been awarded the Society's Silver Brooch for her work. The Council did absolutely nothing to help her or to set up "an inquiry into her rejection. By any standards her treatment was a total disgrace.
In December, the Kingston on Thames RSPCA branch committee was disbanded. The Committee was then reinstated with the exception of Doris and Caroline Wigmore. The letter informing the committee of the suspension stated an investigation would take place. Doris and Caroline were not included in this procedure. Puzzling, is it not? It would seem logical to think that no valid investigation, could take place without the evidence from Doris and Caroline since the whole exercise seemed destined to get rid of them.
MEMBERSHIP 22,753 . . a loss of 2,168 members (Surprised?)
LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1986 Angela lost her seat on the Council. A. Stones stood for election and failed but HE was co opted back on to the Council. (Remember Lord Goodman’s advice in 1980. Advice that was paid for by money donated for animals.)
A very important resolution was passed at the A.G.M.. It was proposed by Margaret House and seconded by Caroline Wigmore and it sought to have the principles of natural justice written into the rules. This was essential in view of what was happening to members ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.
BERNICE JONES and the Gwent Branch Committee were disbanded. Mrs. Jones was trying to care for too many dogs according to the Council. The answer? Let the press describe what happened.
"An RSPCA hit squad swooped on an animal shelter and destroyed 29 dogs in an early morning raid that took the staff by surprise,"
"It is alleged that weeping RSPCA kennel girls took the slaughtered dogs from waste bins to check they were dead in a KGB-style operation."
the name of pity,
WHY DID THE COUNCIL NOT HELP BERNICE CARE FOR THE DOGS?
RSPCA branch committee disbanded after five members resigned in protest
at the demand for £4,250 part of the £10,000 HQ wanted. The workers believed
the money should be spent on animals.
Why did the Council not help them?
HILLS AND SYDENHAM BRANCH was disbanded although the branch operated in
a deprived area where many animals needed help.
WHO HELPS THEM NOW?
DORIS WIGMORE was expelled from the Kingston On Thames branch and forbidden to do any animal work. WHY? It was claimed, she says, that she had not returned certain papers.
The Branch Committee would not say what papers had not been returned. So how can you return what you don’t know you should return? Does all this begin to sound like a dictatorship gone mad? Doris had been a branch member for 25 years and branch secretary for 25 years and had been awarded the Society’s Silver brooch. The Council did nothing to help her.
Is it not reasonable to think that expulsion should only be for being cruel to animals or for dishonesty with charitable funds or for being convicted of a crime like drunken driving where human lives as well as those of other species are put at risk?
Rspca membership . . . . a loss of 1,406 members in one year.
£££££ 137,394 LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1987 This was a bleak year in the RSPCA. The Colchester RSPCA branch committee was disbanded for trying to save the lives of cats who had ringworm. The branch secretary wrote:-
"It is the injustice of the whole thing which hurts so much, quite apart from the personal bitterness I feel and the knowledge that HQ can heartlessly dispense with the devotion and dedication of voluntary workers". . . .
The London NE RSPCA branch committee was suspended and headlines like these appeared:-
"RSPCA helpers last night began barricading their animal shelter to prevent the Society from seizing and destroying 107 cats and dogs." There was a Press photo of the branch chairman being dragged out of a Regional Conference in Piccadilly.
Two branch officials from the Wimbledon branch were summoned to a meeting at HQ, this meeting was chaired by MRS. MACKENNOW (more about her later). "We were treated like junior employees who had not carried out our duties properly. NO RESPECT WAS PAID TO US AS VOLUNTARY WORKERS GIVING OUR TIME AND MONEY TO HELP NEEDY ANIMALS" said Mrs. Hughes in the branch’s Annual Report.
The AGM was a heart breaking affair for those who had struggled so hard and for so long for democracy and just treatment within the RSPCA. It was clear that the rule changes would not provide just treatment for members. After the AGM, five members stood on the steps outside the Conference Hall and decided that the rights of members to be treated decently MUST be ensured and redress must be obtained for all those members who had suffered at the hands of the Council. Those five members were:- Margaret House, Angela Walder, Richard Farhall, Dave Wetton and Joan Watson. THE RSPCA MEMBERS’ WATCHDOG WAS BORN. In October the first Newsletter was circulated outlining the aims of the group. The response from members was immediate and overwhelming. Letter and phone calls poured in from all over the country.
RSPCA MEMBERSHIP. . . 21,387 an increase of 40 members.
£££££ 134,150 LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1988 By mid January it became reasonable to suppose that the Officers of the Council were determined to silence Watchdog. The expensive £4,000 letter condemning Watchdog (over 100 bitches could have been spayed with this money) sent by the Officers of the Council to all members followed the publication of Watchdog newsletter One. Whether, Felthouse, Smith, Hart and Stones panicked at the thought of being removed by an EGM or whether it was because of the exposure of the RSPCA/BVA agreement, we shall never know. This attack was quickly followed on March 24th by attacks on Watchdog by Mr. Cooper (Woking and District) Mr. Selby (Surrey East) and Mrs. Owen (Brighton) during the Region 2 Conference at HQ. A resolution was passed which sought to have the Watchdog Five removed from the RSPCA. As neither Mr. Cooper nor Mr. Selby were on the Watchdog mailing list and Mr. Cooper admitted he was GIVEN a copy of Watchdog One – DARE WE ASK WHO WAS STIRRING UP THE ISSUE???????
Mrs. Owen made a statement recorded in the minutes which was untrue, yet the members present all said that her statement reinforced the resolution. Alas, such is the way RSPCA affairs seem to be conducted.
WHAT NEXT? Well – a D. J. Spikins (Loughborough) and Mr. E. L. Cooper and a Mr. R. Kirkby stood up at the AGM and proposed a successful (by a narrow margin) motion asking Watchdog to stop publishing. CURIOSER AND CURIOSER, neither Mr. Spikins nor Mr. Cooper nor Mr. Kirkby were on the Watchdog mailing list. Still, Mr. Kirkby knows all about expelling people, he chaired the committee that expelled Doris Wigmore. Back to Mr. Cooper. He wrote:-
"THE FIRST I HEARD OF DR. SPIKINS WAS WHEN HE PHONED ME FROM LOUGHBOROUGH AND SAID IT HAD BEEN SUGGESTED TO HIM THAT I MIGHT BE PREPARED TO SECOND A PROPOSITION HE WAS MAKING AT THE AGM. I MET HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME 30 MINUTES BEFORE THE MEETING AND ONLY THEN FOR LESS THAN THREE MINUTES. I SAW THE AMENDMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE AGM ALTHOUGH I KNEW THAT ONE WAS BEING PREPARED."
Would it be wrong to comment "WHAT A SET UP"? (How long has Spikins been an RSPCA member?)
1988 was the year that Watchdog Joan Watson was elected to the Council. Even worse for the Council, if that was at all possible, Watchdog supporters dominated the AGM. They had overwhelming support for resolutions seeking the end of the RSPCA/BVA agreement, the ending of the slaughter of healthy animals by 1996, the removal of RSPCA investments from companies directly involved in animal experimentation and the calling of the campaigns against angling and to attract more members.
As you all know, in November the Watchdog Five were expelled from the RSPCA simply for producing and publishing Watchdog Nos 1 – 5 and no. 7. NO SUGGESTION WAS EVER MADE THAT ANYTHING PUBLISHED IN WATCHDOG WAS UNTRUE and no evidence was produced to show that what had been done was prejudicial to the Society. MRS. MACKENNOW CONDUCTED THE TRIAL, Mrs. McDavid was busy knitting and members at the meeting as witnesses said they were shocked by the whole affair. Angela is suing the Council and further legal action will follow.
WHILST ALL THIS WAS GOING ON the Council was busy disbanding the Mid Glamorgan branch committee and attracting severe criticism from the local Press. The committee could not pay the quota because they had spent all their money caring for dogs abandoned by striking miners. Our old friends the Hants and Surrey Border branch committee were having another go – this time expelling Dorothy Adams in a trial that we consider shameful and of which we have a recording.
The national press and TV were publishing articles and films highly critical of the RSPCA Council. The RSPCA complained about the REPORTING LONDON programme on March 8th but the Broadcasting Complaints Commission ruled that the programme as a whole was not unfair.
CINDY MILBURN, the Head of the RSPCA Education Dept. Resigned because she could not accept fundamental policies regarding the place of education within the RSPCA. Philippa Rickard resigned in support and Cindy wrote that she believed she spoke for both of them when she said that "THEY BELIEVED THEY COULD BETTER SERVE ANIMAL WELFARE OUTSIDE THE RSPCA"
Miss Kathleen James, President of the East Cornwall branch resigned because of the Chairman’s RELUCTANCE TO GIVE FULL BACKING TO THE ANTI RODEO CAMPAIGN.
RSPCA MEMBERSHIP . . . . 20,854 a loss of 533 members during the year.
£££££ 121,686 LIVING CREATURES KILLED BY RSPCA £££££
1989 Throughout the year, Watchdog continued to be published under the signatures of various members , none of whom have subsequently been expelled. Letters continue to come from members all over the country and the Press has given sympathetic reporting.
Watchdogs Beryl Spence and Robin Webb were elected to the Council, proving once again the support of the membership for Watchdog.
Lord Houghton played a prominent part in supporting the expelled Watchdog Five by refusing to accept the Gold Medal awarded to him by the Council.
An M.P. complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the RSPCA advertisement for registration. The complaint was upheld.
Cdr. Innes Hamilton resigned as a member criticising the arrogant attitude of the Council towards the members.
The Chief Charity Commissioner wrote to the Chairman of the RSPCA Council to express his concern about the matters exposed by Watchdog to M.P. Dale Campbell-Savours.
RSPCA MEMBERSHIP . . 20,500 (figure provided verbally by HQ) a loss of 354 members during the year.
£££££ No figures yet for 1989 destruction of living creatures £££££
It has been impossible to mention all the many members who have suffered injustice. The loss of 5,529 members since 1983 is a damning indictment.
We believe that after reading the survey, members will be convinced that there should be a full independent inquiry into the Council’s management of the RSPCA at which not only members but expelled members can give oral and written evidence on oath.
QUOTE OF THE DECADE
"The Council has shrugged off the censure of the last AGM. Dismissing the voices of protest as those of a noisy minority, and young active members as Communists, the Council has claimed the right to continue in pursuit of dissent. After the AGM their first act was to re-appoint censured officers and then to set about getting rid of the President. His fault was in being too faithful to the first principle of democracy, which is freedom of speech – at the AGM if nowhere else. The Council then threatened to undermine the position and value of the Vice-Presidents without consent or consultation. Three Vice-Presidents resigned in protest.
It seems never to have occurred to those who bear the major responsibility for this state of affairs to resign. They are still there. In staying, the ruling majority of the Council are now planning to reduce the AGM to a charade. They are so afraid of the democratic voice of the AGM that they don’t want another one like the last two. Instead of harnessing the enthusiasm of our young members to the responsibility of running the Society for the benefit of animals, the idea now seems to be to shut them out: to stifle them. You wait and see."
LORD HOUGHTON OF SOWERBY 1983
A MEMBER WRITES
On Sunday 19 November, a seagull was caught up in a fishing line on a pond on Wandsworth Common. Two people had made separate calls to the RSPCA Putney branch. The bird had also become entangled to an island. They were told the RSPCA could not help, as they had no wellington boots. After trying to get to the bird himself, the young man phoned Putney again. He was told the only wellingtons they had had a hole in them so they still could not help. On the morning of 20th November, the young man saw that the bird was still alive and again he was told that no help could be given. Two hours later he saw the bird still struggling for its life. He phoned Putney and pleaded with them for help for the seagull. This was the 4th call they had received for this bird from him and the 5th call altogether. Again he was told they had no wellies and all about how head office kept them short of money so they just could not afford these things. He and his girl friend contacted all their friends for advice. On Monday night after listening to so many people tell them that they ought to contact the RSPCA, they went to bed feeling utterly defeated. The next morning they saw the bird was still alive and trying to escape but with less energy. In the afternoon they contacted a Guildford Wildlife Sanctuary, the lady put them in touch with me. At 3.15, I phoned Putney RSPCA and asked to speak to Chris Ferode. I was told that he could not be disturbed but eventually I was put through to his secretary, after I had explained that it was now a matter of life or death. I was still not allowed to speak to him but she did put me in touch with an ambulance driver. He started to explain how they had no wellies and not enough men to put a boat out but at my strong insistence he said he would go and look at the situation. I also went to the pond and arrived just after the ambulance man also Inspector Farrant in thigh high wellies. The water proved to be waist deep so the ambulance man waded in with a rod and net only to come back with a dead seagull. This poor creature still had the mesh in its beak where it had been trying to free itself......
££££££ Just to remind you of all the money held by the RSPCA £££££
Thanks for all your letters, phone calls, your very kind wishes and your most useful donations.
With the Council elections approaching, we hope you will replace old Council members with Watchdogs. Notification of our recommendations will appear in the next Watchdog in good time for you to make your voting decisions.
Best wishes for 1990 which we hope will see the reinstatement of the Watchdog Five.