By Nigel Bean
Written for the True Green Alliance and SADC nations to help them better understand the animal rights situation in the UK. The report should give them an understanding of the level of influence animal rights groups and charities have over the decisions made by the UK government and how this may affect their actions as members of CITES. I will concentrate mainly on IFAW as they have influenced UK legislation in the past and are influential in certain aspects of animal rights conservation in Africa.
At the CITES conference of the parties18 in Geneva Switzerland 17-28 August 2019, many SADC nations felt humiliation at the way they were treated by wealthy western government’s looking to secure ‘victories’ or ‘wins’ for animal rights groups/charities and NGO`S. Animal rights ideology is to apply intense pressure on bodies of authority and if a body gives into the pressure and favours the agenda of animal rights this is celebrated as a win or a victory.
This quest for big wins and victories is now a part of everyday like in the UK, with animal rights groups on a daily basis targeting town councils to ban fox hunt meets from their land, universities over the sale of beef products or their shooting grounds, hotels for taking bookings for shooting parties or conferences halls etc. The UK has become a toxic mess through a technique known as ‘swarming’ where members of an authority or commercial enterprise/body are harassed, bullied and smeared on social media via email and poisonous letters until they bend to the will of the extremists.
The origins of ‘swarming’ was first noted in 1951 in a government inquiry into fox hunting and relates to members of the public being invited to send in letters to their respective member of parliament*. This begs the obvious question –
Why in 68 years have the UK government not acted upon this targeted harassment?
Before we can answer that question we also have to consider a report commissioned by the UK government made publicly available in Oct 2019. Called ‘Challenging Hateful Extremism’ it shows those respondents to a survey put witnessing animal rights extremism in the top five of witnessed extreme acts.
Extract the Government inquiry into fox hunting 1951:
*‘There are, on the other hand, some organisations which have been formed solely for the purpose of securing the prohibition of a particular sport or all field sports. In the main such organisations seek to convert public opinion to their point of view by pamphlet, advertisements and press propaganda, and by Parliamentary action instigated by pressure on Members of Parliament which is both direct and indirect, through letters which constituents are invited to send to their representatives. Such organisations do not as a rule themselves investigate the facts of the practices to which they object, and the evidence they placed before us was for the most part based on reports appearing in the Press or other publications`
Why the UK Government do not act upon targeted harassment from animal rights groups
Animal rights groups/charities do not have a legitimate concern to start a campaign, instead they have excellent marketing departments that can spin information 180 degrees* and fabricate a problem that doesn’t exist. Because they have first class contacts in the press they can create a tsunami of fake news and elevate the fabrication to national level making it attractive for politicians to take up their cause. To give credibility to their campaign they bank roll specially chosen scientists to support their claims. These scientists can be funded through a third party charity for drummed up work on an unrelated matter and the work they do related to the animal rights campaign can then be promoted as impartial.
Conclusion: The scientist gets his money, the animal rights group get their ‘dodgy’ science for a money spinning campaign, the press get a story and the politician gets a cause.
*Examples information spun 180 degrees.
Africa Big game hunting – The public are led to believe African elephant are facing extinction – when, in fact, in southern Africa there are far too many elephants. (In South Africa; Namibia; Botswana and Zimbabwe elephant population numbers are ALL “more than 10 TIMES” bigger than their habitats can sustainably support)
UK Fox Hunting – The fox is not a pest – Farmers and landowners for centuries have controlled fox numbers to reduce lamb predation the methods in place are so successful they keep lamb losses at around 1%. Animal rights groups take the 1% figure ignore the measures in place to achieve that figure and claim the fox is not a pest as predation on lambs only accounts for 1% of losses.
A sinister method of presenting fiction as fact without a scientific connotation occurred with UK circuses and has been repeated the world over. Activists became bogus workers for the circuses making themselves attractive by accepting low wages. Once infiltration has taken place they then cause mischief by deliberately mixing up incompatible animals so they would fight. They then call for assistance from the animal trainers, as they rush into the cages with sticks to split up the animals the bogus worker stands back filming the whole scene. One trainer thinking a bogus worker had made a genuine mistake agreed with the bogus worker not to inform the owner of the incident, weeks later he saw himself on UK news waving sticks around splitting up fighting animals in an anti-circus news report. This skulduggery goes on with the full knowledge of UK politicians who are so corrupted by animal rights they turn a blind eye.
Modus Operandi of IFAW
At CITES cop18 after the decision was taken to raise the status of protection to giraffes to level 2, the next morning toy giraffes appeared on delegates desks. This very immature approach to wildlife management and conservation is very much a part of U.K. animal rights practices. Politicians appear holding toy foxes aloft and animal rights groups’ campaign in comedy suits of the animals they claim to defend. The toy giraffes were placed on the desk by IFAW representatives and gives a good indication of the level of their mentality.
In 1997 IFAW donated one million pound to the Labour for animal rights legislation including a fox hunting ban. This donation was made through a newly started company called the political animal lobby (PAL) in a blatant attempt to hide the connection to IFAW. They wanted the prestige of Charity status and to gain this credibility party political donations are a no-no. However many were disgusted including IFAWs own workers at this blatant payment including the leader of the Conservatives party Boris Johnstone’s Father, Stanley. He wrote his disgust and this is recorded in Hansard, the diary of Westminster Parliamentary debate.
“Don’t let anyone tell you this was not a quid pro quo exchange. It was. I have the clearest recollection of having lunch in the garden of my farm in Somerset and answering the telephone from the United States to be informed that IFAW officials had done a deal with Peter Mandelson and Jonathon Powell whereby IFAW would put up one million pounds and the Labour Party would make a manifesto commitment on hunting”
The payment became known in the U.K. as the ‘bung for a ban’
The fox hunting ban was achieved in 2005, IFAW were given charity status by Labour for the ‘bung for a ban campaign’ against hunting. Over the years the dirty campaign got forgotten and the newly available credibility allows IFAW to lobby politicians and offer them other campaigns to stand against. They also have fanatical supporters infiltrating political parties, Zac Goldsmith was donating to the green party, then realised this was wasting time. He switched allegiances started to donate significant sums of money (Over £300,000) to the Conservative party and rapidly rose up the ranks. He is now a minister at DEFRA where he is responsible for international animal welfare and conservation.
The Political Animal Lobby are still very much active around the world, have their own website and are still donating large sums of money to the Labour Party for animal rights legislation.
Leading up to the 2015 UK general election the Political animal Lobby donated 250k to the Labour Party and were in the top ten of the highest donors.
Modus Operandi of an IFAW funded Scientist – Professor Stephen Harris
‘….. while 34 out of 72 citations are to unrefereed publications, unpublished reports or word of mouth. The authors give equal weight to all sources of information. This may sound objective, but it means that the evidence of first class experimental studies is ranked equal with that of poor studies that lack any experimental design at all.’ …..Dr Jonathan Reynolds GWCT (Is the fox a pest, Harris et al)
‘The curious manner of its release (selectively to the press on 27th October, but denied to everyone else until a full week later) also suggested a deliberate effort to achieve publicity without disagreement.’…….Dr Jonathan Reynolds GWCT (Is the fox a pest, Harris et al)
‘This has been a continuing problem with misinterpretation of my data that apparently began with an anti-hunting group in the U.S. That group’s web page attributed changes recorded in trapped foxes to changes in foxes chased by dogs. This is blatantly incorrect and, I suspect, wilfully done.’ ……Dr Terry Kreegar (How will a hunting ban affect the fox population, Harris et al)
‘As the regional and national zoo associations with strong commitment to ensuring their members have the highest levels of welfare, we are concerned that the report groundlessly conflates the keeping of animals at zoos with the exotic pet trade and travelling circuses.’
‘The Case against Fur Factory Farming, claims to be a scientific review, but fails on a number of factual errors and misinterpretations. The report is political rather than scientific.’
‘Mr. Harris fails to fulfill the report’s objective of doing a scientific review of WelFur’
‘The Welfare of Wild Animals in Traveling Circuses by Dorning, Harris and Pickett also cited my studies many times, and their use of my studies and the literature is similarly biased.’…..Prof Ted Friend (The use Wild animals in circus review for Welsh Govt 2016, Harris et al)
‘I am concerned that very few people have actually read my scientific publications and discovered that Harris’s spin is 180 degrees from what we found.’ ..Prof Ted Friend (The use Wild animals in circus review for the Welsh Govt 2016, Harris et al)
The Modus Operandi of Professor Harris was exposed in the late nineties by Dr Jonathan Reynolds of the GWCT in a critique he wrote of a Harris review called ‘Is the fox a pest’.
‘Summarising a complex subject like this involves making many approximations. This is where bias can creep in. Of course, the evidence considered in a review is listed and the reader can potentially get published items through libraries to read and judge for his or herself; but since ‘Is the Fox a Pest?’ is clearly targeted at non- experts, it is disingenuous of the authors to suppose that most readers really will do so.’
Dr Reynolds investigated the citations:
‘….. while 34 out of 72 citations are to unrefereed publications, unpublished reports or word of mouth. The authors give equal weight to all sources of information. This may sound objective, but it means that the evidence of first class experimental studies is ranked equal with that of poor studies that lack any experimental design at all.’
‘The curious manner of its release (selectively to the press on 27th October, but denied to everyone else until a full week later) also suggested a deliberate effort to achieve publicity without disagreement.’
At the centre of Professor Harris involvement with animal rights groups like IFAW is the sheer farce surrounding his claims of impartiality and independence. For them he wrote political, journalistic science reviews in the knowledge they will be taken at face value simply because they were written by a Professor. He uses a very high number of references he knows non-experts won’t validate.
Like all animal rights campaigns they are fabricated, nobody in the UK was complaining that foxes were over abundant or causing too much livestock damage and Professor Harris as a fox expert knew farmers were integrating separate approaches to keep livestock losses to a minimum and this was the best solution. He knew this because it was documented in a book ‘Mammals as pests’ written about the discourse and findings from a symposium he helped organise.
Extract from the ‘Mammals as pests’
‘…one final and important lesson vertebrate managers might learn from insect pest control is that the most effective management exercises overall are those that integrate a number of separate approaches to the problem.’
For his financial backers IFAW Professor Harris isolated the number of foxes killed by just traditional mounted registered hunting packs (15,000) and compared this to the total number of foxes estimated killed by all other methods shooting etc. and including other forms of hunting dogs (170,000). He then claimed hunting with the traditional mounted packs is ineffective and we should ban all forms of hunting with dogs. IFAW now have a campaign to ban traditional mounted hunting based on claims of its ineffectiveness.
The hunting timeline of Prof Stephen Harris
It’s very important to remember to the very end of this timeline Prof Harris argues his impartiality for his financial backers.
1996 – Professor Harris joins animal rights group the League Against Cruel Sports at a rally and discusses the decline of the Brown Hare.
1997 – Professor Harris co-authors two reports funded by IFAW, the reports are intended to complement the £1,000,000 donation made to Labour by the Political Animal Lobby (PAL). The reports are called ‘How a ban will affect the fox population’ the other ‘Is the fox a pest’1. The reports are heralded by hunting abolitionists, for instance, the League Against Cruel Sports paper the Wildlife Guardian reported:
‘The members of the committee will be encouraged to accept the hard evidence produced by wildlife academics and campaigners, rather than the myths and anecdotes of the blood sports fraternity.’ (Appendix B).
1997 – In October Professor Harris journeys from Bristol to London to be present at the announcement of the Hunting bill put forward by Michael foster. He is photographed alongside League Against Cruel Sports Vice President Kevin McNamara, Michael Foster the bills proposer and the vehemently anti-hunting Jackie Ballard. She went on to be Director General of the anti-hunting RSPCA.
1997 – November, and again Professor Harris has journeyed from Bristol to London to be present at the second reading of the hunting bill supported by 411 MPs, he can be seen applauding Michael Foster, the bill’s sponsor. (He has subsequently told a judge who questioned his impartiality under oath he was just passing and thought it polite to clap)
1999 – Professor Harris, P. Baker and C. Webbon start a research project funded by IFAW to count fox numbers by using the controversial faecal count method. Starting in 1999 the research had nothing whatsoever to do with hunting and was a feasibility study to see if fox numbers could be estimated. The study was due to finish in 2000 but was extended for a further two years once it was established faked news could be generated against fox hunting.
2000 – Professor Harris and his team receives substantial amounts of money for research from IFAW ‘Modelling the impact of a ban on hunting’ and a further £40,000 for ‘Dynamics of the fox population’. (Fig 1)
2000 – While conducting the IFAW/RSPCA funded faecal count study Professor Harris gets rejected by Jack Straw (Home Secretary 2000) for a position on the Government inquiry team to investigate hunting with dogs. Labour MPs forced the Chairman of the inquiry to award a research contract to Professor Harris and others, however such was the concern over his impartiality, Lord Burns, the chairman of the inquiry, awarded the very same contract to Professor David MacDonald to counter bias. Of the five contracts covering various aspects of the debate only the one which Professor Harris was awarded had a counter research contract awarded to validate the research.2
2000 – Professor Harris faces huge embarrassment, the all-important data on cruelty contained in the review he wrote ‘How a ban will affect the fox population’ written in 1997 and used to provide the scientific vehicle for politicians to push for a ban on cruelty gets exposed as corrupt. The data had been manipulated to fit the anti-hunting agenda in America and was available via a website. Professor Harris copied the corrupt data directly into his report without validating first. This dereliction of academic duty came to light when the original author of the research, a man called Terry Kreeger, got to hear of how his data was being misrepresented at such a high level in the UK. He wrote to the Government inquiry to set the record straight. (Appendix C)
‘This has been a continuing problem with misinterpretation of my data that apparently began with an anti-hunting group in the U.S. That group’s web page attributed changes recorded in trapped foxes to changes in foxes chased by dogs. This is blatantly incorrect and, I suspect, wilfully done.’
‘I personally have no stake in this issue in the U.K. other that trying to ensure that the objective truth is disseminated. If you have any questions or require additional information, please feel free to contact me.’ – Terry Kreeger
2002 – Professor Harris and his team receive a further payment of £9,800 from the anti- hunting group, the RSPCA. The report into establishing fox numbers through faecal count started in 1999 is finally complete and published in the science journal Nature. (Fig1)
Serious concerns over the peer review process were echoed to the scientific journal Nature by various academics and knowledgeable professionals. They question Professor Harris’ non-scientific reliance on assuming other methods are not used instead to replace the moratorium on hunting over the foot and mouth period.
Professor Harris’ research findings were naturally announced to the press just before the portcullis hunting hearings were due to take place. This angered the minister in charge, after seeking advice from other impartial academics he called the research by Professor Harris inconclusive.
2002 – At the Portcullis hunting hearings Professor Harris is asked to represent the anti- hunting groups as their expert, he duly obliges.
2002 – At the Portcullis hearing Professor Harris made the astonishing claim
‘I have already demonstrated in my earlier evidence that hunting makes no contribution to regulating fox numbers, that there is no case for widespread fox control, that there is no evidence that widespread fox control has any significant impact on fox numbers…’
Professor Harris own submission to the the Burns inquiry showed widespread fox control accounting for 43.5% of all fox mortality making deliberate culling by man the biggest single factor in fox mortality.
‘It is estimated that in Britain 285,000 foxes are killed annually by people (Pye-Smith 1997). Dividing this figure according to the different culling methods the numbers killed are estimated as follows: 100,000 killed on the roads, 80,000 shot, 50,000 dug out with terriers, 30,000 snared, 15,000 killed by fox-hunts and 10,000 killed by lurchers.’3
2003 – Professor Harris receives £2,000 (Fig1) from the anti-hunting group IFAW to research wounding rates from shooting foxes. The research is based on checking old records and X- rays for wounds unrelated to shooting to see if a previous wound from shooting has occurred. Professor Harris announced his research will be peer reviewed at the Labour party conference 2003 to counter a peer reviewed study showing higher than expected wounding rates by Dr Nick Fox. The announcement was greeted with tremendous applause by Labour MPs, convinced of his claim they went on to ban hunting. However the methodology Harris intended to use was fundamentally flawed and the paper never saw the light of day.
2004 – A fake news campaign is launched against hunting by the Sunday Mirror, on October 3rd as the hunting bill ping-pongs between the Houses of Commons and Lords, the fake news tactics writing of a ‘learned letter’ that nobody to this day has ever seen.Professor Harris is available for comment.
‘This admission reveals the hypocrisy of the pro-hunt lobby. They don’t manage the fox population and they don’t control it’. 5
2004 – Another report by Professor Harris seeking bad publicity for hunting and funded by IFAW gets published in the Journal of Applied Ecology and claims to provide the most accurate number of foxes in Britain. IFAW generate fake news and employ the tactic of making claims on behalf of their opponents, they now disprove the claim they have made on behalf of their opponents.
‘This research demolishes arguments by the hunting lobby that foxes need to be killed to prevent a population explosion.’
The Countryside Alliance argued the exact opposite consistently up to this point and stated to this their submission to a government inquiry.
‘3.11.5 Accordingly, the Alliance submits that there are real grounds for concern that, if hunting with dogs were to be banned, the fox population in lowland areas would decline. Such a decline would be likely to take place with a corresponding decline in the welfare of the species’
2006 – One year after the ban and farmers in upland sheep rearing now start complaining about the ineffectiveness of using just two hounds to find a fox. Professor Harris & P. Baker counter with another IFAW funded paper, this appears in the European Journal of Wildlife Research and was again used to generate fake news in the newspapers. The conclusion suggests fox culling had no impact on fox numbers in the forestry plantations and woodland areas surrounding the upland lambing fields. A calculated bluff, stating the obvious as the culling takes place to remove the foxes from the surrounding lambing fields where the lambs are born.
A table showing the substantial amounts of money from the RSPCA and IFAW Professor Harris and others received for various projects during and shortly after the drive to ban fox hunting.
A FOI request for funding of projects from 2010 to 2017 involving Professor Harris was rejected despite an earlier request for 2000 – 2010 being granted. Where payments appear to cover just expenses giving the impression of a ‘disinterested’ study, payments can be made through other outlets. For instance the RSPCA played a pivotal role in getting the Welsh Government to agree a ban on wild animals in circuses, for his review Harris received £9,000. However at the same time Harris received sponsorship from them for a fox website started in 2010, as stated in the disclaimer.
Time line Professor Stephen Harris’ Other Animal Rights Activities
2013 – Harris co-authors a report funded by the animal rights group ‘The Born Free Foundation’, this called into question welfare standards at zoos. It was not until March 2017 that the Zoo associations became aware of the document and responded accordingly:-
‘As the regional and national zoo associations with strong commitment to ensuring their members have the highest levels of welfare, we are concerned that the report groundlessly conflates the keeping of animals at zoos with the exotic pet trade and travelling circuses.’
2015 – The League Against Cruel Sports want to show a pack of hounds in Scotland is cruel and ineffective, so they turn to Professor Harris with funding. He writes a report to
6 accommodate their narrative called ‘The utility of killing foxes in Scotland’ 6. Harris references a study (Hewson 1990). In 2000 Professor David Macdonald advised the Government inquiry:
‘Overall we consider the study scientifically weak, and not to allow strong conclusions drawn by Hewson and LACS,
2015 – On the same day Professor Harris arranges the scope for his review into the use of wild animals in circuses with the Welsh Government his report against the fur industry was presented in the European Parliament and drew immediate criticism for its bias.
‘The report, The Case against Fur Factory Farming, claims to be a scientific review, but fails on a number of factual errors and misinterpretations. The report is political rather than scientific.’
The case against the Lamerton hunt collapses when Professor Harris’ links to animal rights groups are revealed in court.
2016 – The review into the use of wild animals in circuses is complete and handed to the Welsh Government on the December 15th 2016, by the 23rd it has been severely criticised by the researcher who has published the most refereed journal articles on animals in circuses in the world for the USDA, Professor Ted Friend :-
‘The Welfare of Wild Animals in Traveling Circuses by Dorning, Harris and Pickett also cited my studies many times, and their use of my studies and the literature is similarly biased.’
2017 – The letter Dr. Friend sent to Bristol University and Lesley Griffiths Rural and Environmental Minister for Wales led to the forced early retirement of Professor Harris in February 2017. This forced retirement appears to have caught both Professor Harris and his students by complete surprise and some even held a petition for him to return, but were told he was not coming back.
2017– In March, just one month after his forced retirement, the CPS are using Professor Harris in the trial against the Grove & Rufford hunt, a guilty verdict was obtained largely on the evidence of Professor Harris.
2017 – Professor Ted Friend’s critique of the Welsh review is translated for the Italian senate causing them to step back from an elimination of animals from circuses.
‘I am concerned that very few people have actually read my scientific publications and discovered that Harris’ spin is 180 degrees from what we found.’
2017 – Professor Harris writes a report with reference to the National Trust giving the impression it was somehow linked to them and coincided with the vote on whether to ban fox hunting on their land. The National Trust were contacted about the report and, until that point, were unaware of its existence.
2018 – At the appeal in April of the Grove & Rufford hunt the prosecution pull out just as Professor Harris is about to give evidence, not surprising really as most of information in this report is known by the prosecution. Subsequently £60,000 pounds in costs is returned to those subject to a serious injustice.
2018 – Professor Harris`s and his claims of impartiality finally start to catch up with him. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/11/foxhunting-prosecution-professor-misrepresented-science/
2019 – The animal rights fanatical Prof Harris is caught kissing another fanatic and key witness in a hunting trial, the trial is dropped but he still argues his impartiality.
Appendix A – (RSPB figures produced in 2013/14 showing 293 foxes killed on 23 reserves)
Appendix B – The Wildlife Guardian reports on ‘How a hunting ban will affect the fox population’ ‘The members of the committee will be encouraged to accept the hard evidence produced by wildlife academics and campaigners, rather than the myths and anecdotes of the blood sports fraternity.’
Appendix C – (Taken from the Government inquiry website – Terry Kreeger’s letter to the inquiry team making them aware of the misuse of his data in the report ‘How will a hunting ban affect the fox population’ written by Professor Stephen Harris’
Research contract 6 – REPORT ON CONTRACT 6 METHODS OF CONTROLLING FOXES, DEER, HARE AND MINK Piran
White1, Philip Baker2, Geraldine Newton Cross1, James Smart1, Rebecca Moberly1, Graeme McLaren3, Rachel Ansell2, and Stephen Harris2 (18.104.22.168)
4, http://charliepyesmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/Rural-Rites-by-Charlie-Pye-Smith.pdf p59-60
5, https://www.thefreelibrary.com/BLOODY+LIARS%3B+Countryside+Alliance+email+reveals+plan+to+breed+foxes…- a0122742642
Article by: Nigel Bean – email@example.com