National newspaper accused of spreading malicious nonsense about charity

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29th March 2016 by Susan Smith 1 Comment

Accusations in the Times newspaper that the League Against Cruel Sports has misspent a £3.5 million legacy are malicious nonsense, the charity has claimed.

In a strongly worded rebuttal, the animal rights organisation said it has not yet spent a penny of the bequest from Stan Hales, an industrialist who died in 2013.

The organisation, which was the main campaigning body that fought for an end to fox hunting, has accused the newspaper of targeting charities and trying to discredit its continued oposition to hunting at a time when a repeal of the ban is being considered.

To suggest we have failed our donors is not only incorrect but frankly laughable

A strongly worded statement on the charity's website attacks the newspaper for publishing a one-sided story.

"The Times story is a mishmash of exaggerations, half-truths and claims that are plainly incorrect," it states. "We were able to rebut every single accusation but none of our responses have been used which suggests that the journalist was after a cheap headline, and not actually interested in accuracy." 

The statement, which covers all the newspapers allegations in detail, also highlights the organisation's recent successes.

"To suggest we have failed our donors is not only incorrect but frankly laughable," it states. "We have not only managed this legacy with great care and attention – and will continue to do so when we decide the time is right to spend it – but we have also achieved several major successes over the last few years. 

"Not only did we lead the way in thwarting the government’s attempt to legalise fox hunting last year, but we have also exposed the treatment of birds used by the game bird shooting industry, highlighted the hidden evil of snares and produced a ground-breaking report that showed that one dog fight takes place in the UK every day. 

"We’ve done this and more in the last year, showing that we are efficiently and effectively using donors’ money wisely – and in the way they would want us to use it. As well as our impact in defending animals from cruelty, our membership and voluntary income increased significantly, which shows that our supporters know we are doing an effective job." 

The Times article, published on Monday, accused the charity of using Hale's legacy gift to cover a 10% rise in salaries across the organisation. It suggested the organisation was on the brink of collapse before it received the funds.

It also claimed a whistleblower at the charity had volunteered to give evidence of suspected non-compliance on a range of issues to the Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales. The regulator, however, declined to be involved, saying that the spending decisions and administration of charities were decisions for the trustees.

The charity admitted that staff were given a pay rise in 2014, but said it came after a three-year pay freeze and after the charity undertook a comparison exercise that revealed its staff had an average salary below others in similar organisations.

Its statement concludes: "In recent months the Times has run a series of articles against environmental and animal welfare groups and has criticised the League for using supporters funds to expose the illegal slaughter of thousands of turtle doves, expose the appalling treatment ‎of greyhounds by the racing industry that culminated in a damming Commons report, and to prosecute potentially illegal hunters in a case for which the police apologised and disciplined their own officers for dropping. This is exactly what our supporters expect, and will continue to get, from us." 

30th March 2016 by CLEAR

Cynical manipulation and abuse of privileged press power - shameless. Not new and yet not controlled in any meaningful way. There may be fewer newspaper readers now but the right wing press control the agenda and deliberately undermine a number of progressive causes..