The RSPCA is under the influence of a group of radical animal rights campaigners who are pushing the 195-year-old institution to lobby for angling and horse racing to be outlawed, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
At recent policy committee meetings vice-chairman Jane Tredgett and her allies on the RSPCA’s ruling council have steered the charity, which is patronised by the Queen, towards hardline stances against two of Britain’s most popular pastimes.
Insiders say staff and moderate RSPCA trustees have so far successfully opposed the proposals, which it is feared would jeopardise support and funding for the charity’s animal welfare work.
However, there is mounting concern that a planned overhaul of the charity’s governance this week will allow Ms Tredgett and her allies to win approval for campaigns against angling and horse racing.
To date the RSPCA has taken a more moderate approach to both pastimes. It has sought to collaborate with the horse racing industry to improve welfare standards and sought to educate anglers about the risk to wildlife posed by discarded fishing line and hooks.
At the charity’s annual meeting on Saturday, June 29, members are due to vote on reducing the ruling council from 25 trustees to only 12. The change would drastically curb the influence of the charity’s network of regional branches, which are on the front lines of animal welfare and tend to oppose attempts to mount controversial political campaigns.
All but three appointees to the new council would be elected by a national vote of members, opening the door to entryism by animal rights activists, RSPCA sources fear.
Ms Tredgett has worked in training for the likes of British Gas, the NHS and ATT for the past 30 years, at one stage winning Bedfordshire Business Woman of the Year award. She was instrumental in the appointment last year of Chris Sherwood as RSPCAchief executive, against internal opposition. Mr Sherwood, the eighth holder of the £150,000-a-year post in 11 years, came from the much smaller counselling charity Relate and was viewed as a campaigning rather than an animal welfare appointment.
Following a degree in biological sciences Ms Tredgett worked in the sales and marketing departments of the drug maker Beechams, now part of GlaxoSmithkline. Mrs Tredgett, who lives near Goole, in Humberside, has spent the past two decades volunteering for animal charities, including her local pet rescue.
Her current allies on the RSPCA council include Bob Baylis, a devoted supporter of Jeremy Corbyn who frequently posting tweets in support of the Labour Leader and has allegedly offended colleagues with criticism of the Queen. According to his RSPCAbiography Mr Baylis began his career as an organic smallholder in Norfolk, supplying goats milk and other produce to health food stores in the area.
His commitment to animal rights dates back to the early 1980s, when he was a director of Animal Aid and BUAV.