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RSPCA has become ‘sinister and nasty’ and should be replaced, says head of Countryside Alliance

Sir Barney White-Spunner questions authority of ‘once great British institution’

The RSPCA has turned from a “once great British institution” to something “rather sinister and nasty”, according to the head of the Countryside Alliance.

Britain needs a new organisation to look after the welfare of its animals, according to Sir Barney White-Spunner, a former commanding officer in the British army whose cattle herd was only recently cleared after a lengthy shutdown with bovine TB.

Speaking in an interview with the Telegraph, Sir Barney said he was urging his members to reconsider their donations to the RSPCA, which last December spent more than £300,000 on a private prosecution against a single hunt in Oxfordshire.

“It’s a sad story,” he said. “It’s got plenty of money but its membership has plummeted. A once great British institution has been turned from an animal welfare organisation to one concerned with animal rights. That’s sad.”

On their attempts to stop the badger cull, he said: “Where does their moral authority come from? They have no statutory responsibility, yet when their inspectors turn up in uniform it’s as a private organisation, there is something rather sinister and nasty about it. But what’s their authority? Why should they, just because they are rich, tell us how to behave towards animals?”

Sir Barney said a shift in stance from the 189-year-old organisation meant there was a gap which could be filled by a new group.

In the interview, Sir Barney also criticised the National Trust for wanting to “freeze” the countryside and turn it into “a sort of theme park” for Sunday afternoon walks.

And speaking from his office in Westminster, he added that the BBC worked on the basis that people from rural backgrounds are “a rather Neanderthal lot”.

“We do not think the BBC is balanced or fair,” Sir Barney said. “It gives a view of rural England as seen from central London and when the BBC say we try to give a balanced view they mean a balanced view between two people in central London, not between central London and the countryside.”