Fur flies as Gwyneth Paltrow offends her animal-rights friends

The actress courts controversy in an ad campaign and puts her relationship with Stella McCartney on the line

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She is almost as famous for her green, holistic lifestyle as she is for her film roles, but Gwyneth Paltrow has become the focus of angry animal rights campaigners.

The actress is fronting the autumn collection of fur-lined boots and bags from the Italian company Tod's – which also uses ostrich and snakeskin in its products.

Photographs of the Hollywood star draped in fox fur feature in the company's latest advertising campaign. Activists have branded the 35-year-old – who is married to the Coldplay singer and prominent vegetarian Chris Martin – as stupid and say that she should be ashamed of herself.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) went as far as to criticise her parenting, saying: "Gwyneth Paltrow won't be the apple of her daughter's eye if she continues to flaunt fur.

"It's a terrible example to set for a young child, promoting an industry that electrocutes animals, snaps their necks and skins them alive."

Tony Wardle, associate director of the vegetarian charity Viva!, said: "There is nothing feminine about inserting an electrode into the anus of a terrified and struggling fox and then electrocuting it. Ms Paltrow is an actress – and seemingly a particularly stupid one at that."

Mark Glover, director of Respect for Animals, said: "Gwyneth Paltrow should be ashamed to promote something so steeped in animal suffering. I can only assume that Paltrow either is ignorant of the facts or lacks human decency and compassion."

The row is ironic, as Ms Paltrow enjoys a close friendship with the designer Stella McCartney. Following in the footsteps of her staunchly vegetarian mother, Linda, Ms McCartney refuses to use fur – in direct contrast to the views of her friend, who has in the past described it as being "feminine and very elegant".

Ms McCartney, smarting from a recent run-in with the furrier Hockley for showing one of her bras under a mink coat it was advertising in Vogue, is said to be furious with the actress. This is unlikely to persuade Ms Paltrow to forsake fur, however.

Peta said yesterday that repeated overtures to the actress have been rebuffed. "We've written to her many times, and sent her videos showing how animals suffer for fur, but have never received a response.

"Apparently her beauty really is only skin deep," said a spokesman.

The British Fur Trade Association said: "Animal rights groups are entitled to their opinion but many people do not share this opinion and it is certainly not reflected in the rising global demand for fur.

"Regrettably, not everyone understands the difference between animal welfare, which has the full commitment of our sector, and animal rights, which seeks to ban every animal use by man, whether for food, medical or scientific research, clothing or companionship."

No comment was available from Ms Paltrow or Mr Martin last night.

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