LONDON—Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK has intensified calls for a UK fur import and sales ban following the publication of an email from former Environment Secretary George Eustice, which reveals that 96% of 30,000 respondents to the Government’s Call for Evidence on the fur market in Great Britain strongly agreed that it is wrong for animals to be killed for fur.
An FOI request detailing correspondence between George Eustice and Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, found that in December 2021 Eustice confirmed this result of the Call for Evidence and stated: “The Government will therefore take forward a ban on the import and sale of fur”. In February 2022, Gougeon confirmed in a reply that “The Scottish Ministers support, in principle, the initiative to prohibit the import and sale in Great Britain of fur to address the public moral objection to any rearing or killing of animals purely for their fur”.
Humane Society International/UK, which leads the celebrity-backed #FurFreeBritain campaign, welcomed the news and renewed its call for the full results of the Call for Evidence to be published and for a UK fur import ban. Despite banning fur farming in 2003 on animal welfare grounds, the UK still imports and sells fur from other countries including Finland and China. HMRC records show that in 2022, the UK imported £41,970,308 of fur, which HSI/UK estimates to be equivalent to over one million animals.
Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The Government ran a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade in May 2021 and has been inexplicably sitting on the results ever since. Today it transpires that the evidence obtained is a slam-dunk in support of a ban, with 96% of respondents agreeing that it is wrong to kill animals for their fur. Based on this evidence, the Government confirmed that it would take forward a ban, and the Scottish Government confirmed its backing for one, and then—nothing. Nearly 30,000 people and organisations took the time to provide evidence, but over the last year Ministers haven’t shown willingness to let evidence lead progress on this policy. We urge the new Defra Secretary to release the results and then move forward with a ban. Fur is not only appalling for animals, but top British virologists have warned that fur farms are a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. The UK should have no part in this cruel, unnecessary and dangerous trade.”
Defra’s Call for Evidence on the Fur Market in Great Britain was launched in May 2021 with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action on the UK fur trade. Over two years on, despite repeated calls from MPs and animal protection organisations, Defra has yet to make the results publicly available. HSI/UK has submitted a further Freedom of Information request to gain access to the results.
HSI/UK’s Fur Free Britain campaign, which calls for a UK fur import and sales ban, has gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures to date.
Media Contact: Sally Ivens, HSI/UK: firstname.lastname@example.org; 07590 559299
- HSI/UK’s recent report on the environmental impact of the fur industry shows that fur is an unsustainable and inefficient material.
- In May 2023, 54 MPs wrote a letter to then Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging her department to publish its analysis of the response to the Call for Evidence, as well as to set out a policy position to deliver a ban on the import and sale of fur in Great Britain.
- Eighteen written questions, such as this one, asking about plans to ban fur imports were submitted to Defra by MPs in the last Parliamentary sessions.
- In response to a Westminster Hall debate on the import and sale of fur, held on 27 June 2023 and led by Giles Watling MP, Defra Minister Trudy Harrison said: “A summary of responses to the call for evidence, setting out the results and the next steps in this policy space, will be published very soon.”
- Leading British virologists Professor Wendy Barclay and Dr Thomas Peacock recently wrote an article in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlighting the public health threat posed by the global fur trade, stating: “We strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. These activities all increase the likelihood of future pandemics.”