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

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

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Peta UK

LONDON—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, Will Young and Susie Dent 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.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The Government’s apparent disinterest and unwillingness to deliver its own Action Plan for animals is frankly baffling. MPs tell us they receive more constituent correspondence calling for better animal protection than any other issue, so passing legislation like the Kept Animals Bill and a ban on fur imports should be an easy and obvious choice in terms of popular policy. But instead, we and animals are enduring endless delays, seemingly deprioritised by this Government despite huge public concern. We urge Mr Sunak to remember his Party’s promises to animals and start delivering the action that they deserve, and voters expect.”

Elisa Allen, PETA vice president of programmes, said: “Animals are in peril, and the government has seemingly abandoned them as time is running out for it to make good on its word. PETA is calling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ensure the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill becomes law, along with every other piece of promised pro-animal legislation without further delay.”

Chris Sherwood, RSPCA chief executive, said: “Sadly, animals have been left in limbo by continued inaction on key animal welfare issues by this UK Government. The RSPCA’s landmark Kindness Index found that 80% of people in the UK believe animal welfare should be protected by the government through legislation but sadly we have seen far too little progress from some of the key pledges contained with the UK Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare. We urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to end the gridlock, revive the Kept Animals Bill and ensure this administration keeps its promises for the nation’s animals – helping deliver a country where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion they deserve.”

Coinciding with the letters, the animal charities held an eye-catching demonstration in Westminster with campaigners dressed as Rishi Sunak and Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey staging a scene of animals being ‘hung out to dry’ on a washing line in front of Downing Street.

National polling carried out in April 2022 shows that Brits want to see the Government follow through on its promises to enhance animal welfare. The poll found 72% of respondents – and 71% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election – would like the Government to pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty.

  • Photos from the action outside Downing Street can be downloaded here (credit: PETA).
  • The open letter from celebrities to Rishi Sunak can be viewed here. The full list of signatories is:
    Evanna Lynch, Jan Leeming, Dame Joanna Lumley DBE FRGS, Jodie Prenger, Kirsty Gallacher, Leona Lewis, Dr Marc Abraham OBE, Megan McCubbin, Pete Wicks, Peter Egan, Rula Lenska, Dr Scott Miller BVSc MRCVS , Susie Dent, Tracy Edwards MBE, Will Young.
  • The published letter from animal protection NGOs to Rishi Sunak can be viewed here.


Media contact: Sally Ivens, Humane Society International/UK , sivens@hsi.org ; 07590 559299

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