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How is hacking emails charitable?

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is not generally worth wasting much time on, but reports in the Times this week that it sought to hack the Countryside Alliance's server to access emails does remind us what an appalling organisation it is. More than that, it highlights the trend of animal rights organisations 'charitising' extremism, and the complete failure of the regulator, the Charity Commission, to address shocking abuse of charitable status across a swathe of animal rights 'charities'.

Even the publicly admitted activities of LACS are almost impossible to fit within the definition of a 'charity'. Intelligence gathering, covert surveillance and private prosecution are the activities of vindictive vigilantes, and have no conceivable public benefit. Then there is the complete lack of evidence or principle behind its campaigning agenda and the partisan party political activity which it has been censured for, on more than one occasion. This week's revelations of email hacking are not particularly surprising, but they do remind us that under the surface LACS is carrying out even more unpleasant and uncharitable activity than it does in the open.

This matters, not just to those of us who are the target of such activity, but because the behaviour of the animal rights movement is rapidly bringing the whole concept of a charity into disrepute. The trade journal 'Third Sector' reported this month that the RSPCA, another dysfunctional charity which carries out some deeply uncharitable activity, has been officially warned about failures in its governance. On the same page, another story reports that public trust in charities has fallen to its lowest level since 2005. I would suggest that the two are not unconnected. As badger charities revel in the illegal activity of anti-cull campaigners, and vegan charities campaign against family farms and businesses animal rights extremism continue to drag the entire charitable sector further into disrepute.

We have written to the new Charity Commission Chairman, Baroness Stowell, about the multiple issues at LACS and will be seeking a meeting with her to discuss the wider abuse of charitable status by animal rights extremists. You do have to ask, however, why it takes an organisation like the Countryside Alliance to stand up and challenge this abuse of charitable status whether by the RSPCA, LACS or numerous other animal rights organisations. The Charity Commission has bestowed charitable status on some of the most extreme organisations imaginable without seeming to either question the legitimacy of their agendas, or take any responsibility for their subsequent activities. This is simply not good enough from a statutory regulator.

Tim Bonner
Chief Executive
Follow me at @ca_timb

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