BY NIGEL BEAN & PAUL READ
Animal rights groups still remain very much active on the political scene – cheating, lying, funding fake science, and getting like-minded politicians to do their bidding.
On the 15th July 2020, You unlikely noticed but the final nail went into the coffin of UK circuses using animals when Wales, the last remaining country in the UK to do so, banned the use of semi-domesticated animals in circuses. Whatever you think of circuses, this development is, of course, extremely worrying for field sports enthusiasts, fishermen, shooters, and others. Like circus owners, these groups are also constantly defending their activities against animal rights fanatics. Maybe there is something such groups can learn from the Welsh fiasco?
In 2015 the Welsh “government” asked Professor Stephen Harris, then still of Bristol University, to review the welfare of circus animals with the aim of providing evidence to support a ban. Harris’ involvement was an immediate concern because of his serious meddling and twisting of data during the fox hunting debate in early 2000. The review findings were announced in December 2016. In May 2017 we had been contacted by an Italian veterinary surgeon suggesting we read a letter from Professor Ted Friend to the Italian senate. There it was yet again in writing – yet another academic accusing Professor Harris of twisting data.
Professor Friend on Harris:
“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.”
We began an investigation. We contacted Professor Friend, a world-renowned animal behaviourist and, as it turned out, he had debunked the review written for the Welsh Government to Welsh Minister Lesley Griffiths in late December 2016 – a few days after the findings had been announced. He also sent a copy to Bristol University where Professor Harris was employed.
The University investigated Professor Friend’s claims and appeared to side with their academic. But the reality was that two months later Harris was forced into retirement. Students organising a petition for his return were told simply “he won’t be coming back”.
Welsh minister Lesley Griffiths continued to push Harris’ findings to fight the circuses. Alongside her were the RSPCA, Born Free and the animal-rights-driven British Veterinary Association (BVA). Not once did Griffiths mention the debunking or the salient fact that one of only three people to have carried out empirical research on circus animals was being referenced in proceedings. She only ever extolled the virtues of Harris’ review to the Welsh Assembly. In doing so she failed to act soundly and disgraced her office. In effect she hid objectively-collected information that would have better informed the Welsh assembly and members of the public. She hoodwinked the Welsh people and should resign for this crime against democracy.
The Welsh RSPCA and BVA were also unrelenting in their pursuit of a ban at all costs. Fearing that Harris would be exposed as a fraud and propagandist – his findings rendered unusable in Wales – they renamed it using the surname of a lowly graduate researcher called Dorning. It was relaunched in Scotland as the ‘Dorning’ Review. Under its new title it was used as “welfare evidence” against circuses.
Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) we investigated the Welsh Labour Government’s sponsored deceptions further. Our discoveries were as follows:
Professor Friend had complained seminal work had been left out of what was supposed to be a worldwide review of the evidence. An FOI request supported his claim, the Welsh Government had sat down with Professor Harris and agreed criteria that allowed conflicting evidence to be circumvented. However, the paper was peer reviewed, this surely gave it some credibility? No, another FOI request found that the peer review team had been loaded with an ex-RSPCA scientific officer and the current one, Dr Ros Clubb. Both were biased and had even publicly spoken out against circuses in the past.
Dr Ros Clubb in 2011 in the Independent:
“Circuses represent an important traditional form of entertainment and culture but the days when it was acceptable to haul wild animals around in beast wagons to be gawped at and to entertain with unnatural tricks are long gone. Society has moved on, as has our understanding of what animals need”
Ron Aitkinson Ex-Science officer of the RSPCA in the Daily Mail in 2009:
The RSPCA’s wildlife department head Dr Rob Atkinson said: “This is a body blow for animal welfare in this country. Asking these majestic animals to behave in unnatural ways in the name of entertainment is a disgrace – a disgrace which is already banned in several other European countries”
We could not believe our eyes. The RSPCA had collected donations on the back of a campaign that viciously smeared circus people. This propaganda provided a populist cause for the Welsh Labour Party to cover up their unpopular record for being pointless and useless. The RSPCA then supplied an academic that has in the past received generous funding from them and in addition supplied peer reviewers to pass the dodgy science. Complete deception set up from start to finish and, arrogantly, they hoped the public would remain ignorant.
The Welsh “government” were also misleading the public over the results of public consultations. Lesley Griffiths claims over 6,000 Welsh people supported the consultation out of a population of 3 million. She knew full well this stat was incorrect because people were not asked to give their address when answering the consultation and animal rights groups piled in on social media pushing activists to answer multiple times. A further FOI request discovered another consultation linked to the circuses had 800 respondents of which only 11 could be proven to have lived in Wales. Consultations are as pointless to legislation as online petitions.
How dare these paid public servants lie about this subject, leading to unemployment for circus folk, animals being dislocated under stress, with many human and animal lives wrecked.
And what about the opposition parties in the Welsh Assembly? Surely they would react once they were told of this wretched deceit?
Wrong. Not a peep. What a sorry shower of uselessness the Welsh Assembly contains!
Both Paul Davies, the Welsh Conservative Minister from a farming family, and environment minister Andrew RT Davies were notified of the above plus the nastiness involving faked videos to smear the circuses with cruelty. Not once did they publicly hold Lesley Griffiths or her ideologically-possessed Labour comrades to public account.
If the Welsh Assembly “government” are going to legislate using propaganda provided by extremists and opposition political parties are not going to question the toxicity of the ruling party then there really is no point to the Welsh Assembly. It merely creates a layer of jobs for career politicians that is unnecessary and expensive. These politicians clearly cannot be trusted to be open and fair. Let’s just get rid of them. Time to abolish the Welsh Assembly. Turn it into a theme park – why not a circus?