In the half hour BBC Panorama documentary, entitled, Badgers: Dodging the Bullet, Gavin Grant told an audience of anti-badger cull demonstrators: “The spotlight of attention will be turned on those marksmen and on those who give permission for this cull to take place. They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed.”
However, later in the documentary, Grant denied saying this and explained that what he called for was the identities of the farms involved in the cull to be given and not the names of individual farmers. He said: “I’m totally opposed to personal intimidation and certainly have not called for any individuals to be named. The RSPCA is a responsible organisation.”
In response to the programme and Grant’s comments, NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: “With these comments the RSPCA’s chief executive Gavin Grant has overstepped the mark and, in doing so, confirmed our worst fears that the RSPCA is no longer a responsible organisation with animal welfare at its core.
“Mr Grant has actively encouraged people to identify farmers and those carrying out the badger cull pilots next year without a thought for their safety, their family’s safety or the security of their homes. This is tantamount to inciting a campaign of fear and intimidation, which I find wholly unacceptable and completely irresponsible.”
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA told MeatInfo.co.uk that Grant and the RSPCA had consistently, repeatedly and unreservedly condemned harassment, intimidation or threats of violence to or by anyone involved in the bovine TB debate.
She added: “Those agreeing with us in opposing the pilot badger culls – which include leading scientists and the vast majority of the public – should do so by lawful and peaceful means only.
“We are eager to work constructively with farmers, land owners, scientific experts, the government and the European Commission to tackle bovine TB in cattle and wildlife through vaccination and enhanced biosecurity.
“It is sad that the NFU preference is to continue last summer’s ‘war of words’ rather than joining in with this more constructive approach.”
According to government figures, around 34,000 cattle were slaughtered as a result of TB last year, which cost the tax payer millions of pounds.
In attempt to curb TB infection, it was announced a badger cull would take place to wipe out 70% of the badger population in two trial areas.
However, in October, the government announced it would put the badger cull on hold until spring next year, following a serious miscalculation of badger numbers in the trial areas.