Rishi Sunak urged: stop ‘hanging animals out to dry’ by animal charities and celebrities including Dame Joanna Lumley, Leona Lewis and Will Young

Celebrities have written to the Prime Minister asking for urgent action on animal welfare pledges, as leading animal protection organisations stage Downing Street demonstration. 


LONDON, 9th May 2023 — Two years on from the publication of the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which promised to ‘revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK’, celebrities including Dame Joanna Lumley, Leona Lewis, Susie Dent and Will Young have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating that animals “have been badly let down”. 

The celebrities, joining forces with leading UK animal charities Animal Aid, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK, PETA UK and the RSPCA, lament a lack of progress on addressing issues such as ending live animal exports, exploring action on the import and sale of fur products and banning keeping primates as pets. The signatories call on the Government to deliver its Action Plan in full.  

In addition to the letter from celebrities, 25 of the country’s largest animal protection groups including the RSPCA have published an open letter to Rishi Sunak, detailing the Government’s inaction on vital animal welfare measures over the last two years and stating, ‘Our patience, and our trust, has now been exhausted.’ The organisations urge the Prime Minister to ensure that his Government will not abandon its promise of world-leading action for animals that millions of British people are waiting for. 

Of the dozens of ‘game changing welfare measures’ pledged in the Action Plan to better protect animals at home and overseas, only around a quarter have been delivered so far. The Kept Animals Bill, containing several Conservative manifesto promises, such as banning live exports for slaughter and fattening and stopping the cruel trade in puppies, has not been given Parliamentary time for over 17 months. The Action Plan’s flagship legislation recognising animal sentience and requiring it to be considered when formulating and implementing Government policy has still not been brought into force.

“In their unwillingness to deliver on their own Action Plan for Animals, the Government is setting a dangerous precedent not only for animals, but for every promised policy that hangs in the balance of being left behind. 

Despite the fact that the Plan’s “game-changing” animal welfare measures are extremely popular with the British public and have support from key figures and cross-party MPs alike, there has been very little progress made on animal welfare by this Government, with the Kept Animals Bill stalled in Parliament since November 2021.Today, we are urging the Prime Minister to stop hanging animals out to dry and to return the Kept Animals Bill to Parliament as a matter of urgency.”  

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, Country Director at FOUR PAWS UK

Coinciding with the letters, the animal charities held an eye-catching demonstration in Westminster this morning (Tuesday 9 May). Campaigners dressed as Rishi Sunak and Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey staged a scene of animals being “hung out to dry” on a washing line in front of Downing Street. 

Update 25th May 2023 - In a devastating blow for animal welfare, the Government has announced that it will be abandoning the Kept Animals Bill.

"We are incredibly frustrated that the Government has dropped the Kept Animals Bill, which contained impressive measures to improve animal welfare, including banning the live export of farmed animals, a key Brexit promise, and tackling puppy smuggling. Once again, it appears that empty promises to protect animals have been pushed aside, along with the wishes of 72% of the British public who want to see more and stronger legal protections for animals.  

The halting of progress on key promises in the Government’s own Action for Animals Plan is tantamount to animal cruelty due to the needless suffering millions of animals will continue to endure whilst the Government sits on its hands, pawning issues off onto MPs to sort in hard to secure Private Members Bills.   

Whilst we are extremely disappointed by today’s announcement, we will not stop our efforts to ensure the Kept Animals Bill is delivered in its entirety in order to protect animals in the UK."

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK Country Director

Sophie Miller

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