Animal Aid placed alongside neo-Nazi organisations in counter terrorism document
Racing's most vocal opponent, Animal Aid, has been listed as an extremist group alongside neo-Nazi organisations and white supremacist groups on a counter terrorism policing document.
The body, which seeks to end racing in Britain, was placed with Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and Peta and far-right extremists and jihadists in a guide distributed to teachers and medical staff as part of an anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence.
The list was produced by counter-terrorism police and is used across Britain as training to prevent people committing crimes of that nature.
Last year Animal Aid was slammed by the BHA for an advertising campaign on London buses that included the slogan: "You wouldn't hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip race horses?", alongside two silhouetted images of a cowering dog being hit and a racehorse with a jockey on board holding a whip.
It was described as a gimmick by British racing's regulator, although Transport for London said the campaign was compliant with its advertising policy.
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, was surprised by the inclusion of the group on the list, saying: "World Horse Welfare's history shows that campaigning organisations can have a hugely positive effect, and while many will not agree with an organisation's anti-horseracing stance, we think it's bizarre they should be lumped in with neo-Nazis in a government anti-terror list.
"Our charity has always supported the responsible involvement of horses in sport and we believe the most effective way to better protect equine welfare within the horse-human partnership is through constructive relationships and a well-informed approach.
"However, all of horse sport needs to recognise that there are a wide range of – sometimes vocal – views on the ethics of involving horses in sport and they are better addressed than ignored."
Animal Aid said it was devastated to be included on the document, which it believes is harmful and should be withdrawn instantly.
"We are profoundly shocked to see our organisation listed in this way," a statement read. "Animal Aid is a completely peaceful organisation, with a strict policy of non-violence.
"We have campaigned peacefully against animal cruelty for more than 40 years, so to see our compassionate organisation listed alongside neo-Nazi and terrorist groups is absolutely soul-destroying."
Founded in 1977, Animal Aid has long championed the end of racing, paying particular attention to the Grand National, which it says is a "deliberately hazardous race".
It has also been vocal in its insistence the BHA should be replaced as the welfare regulator, and in 2018 triggered a parliamentary debate after reaching the necessary 100,000 signature threshold that would result in government discussion.
That is also something the Liberal Democrats pledged in its pre-election manifesto in November.
The manifesto said the party believed "that all possible steps should be taken to promote animal welfare and prevent animal suffering, with better protection for animals, and full regard for animal welfare".
They would "establish an independent regulatory body for horse welfare to prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses", it added.
At the time, the BHA rejected that notion and a spokesman said it "would not help to further advance the already high horse welfare standards in place across British racing".
The topic of horse welfare remains a hot one and Labour's manifesto included a review of the whip to look at whether its use for encouragement was justified.
The BHA was invited to comment but declined to do so.
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