Celebs Admit They Got It Wrong on Animal Sentience

It’s taken a while, but Guido is pleased to report that Ben Fogle, Sue Perkins, Debroah Meaden and Rachel Riley have all either retracted, deleted or apologised for their tweets, or clarified that they now support the government’s entirely sensible position on animal sentience. Tough 24 hours for celebs on Twitter. Still, at least they’re not Olly Murs… 

Indy Retracts Animal Sentience Story

The Independent has retracted its story claiming that “the Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain” and admitted that it circulated false information to potentially millions of people. In a clarification published last night, the Indy says its report “was not right”:

“Put simply, what happened is this: MPs did not vote that animals are not sentient creatures…

Campaigners – and some news coverage – initially said that the Government had voted against recognising sentience. The Independent was among publishers that reported the story in that way. But it became clear that this claim was not right, even though it had been interpreted by some campaigners in that way. (The Independent updated its coverage to ensure it was accurate).”

The original Indy story was shared thousands of times and was a key factor in half a million people signing a petition repeating the claim. Stories about the Tories and animal sentience were viewed by 2 million people this week. Doubt the Indy’s retraction will be seen by a tenth of that.

Ben Fogle Sorry For Sharing Animal Sentience Fake News Story

Fair play to Ben Fogle, who tells Guido “I am happy to apologise and add clarity” after he tweeted the viral fake news story on animal sentience to his 336,000 followers. Sue Perkins, Rachel Riley, Caroline Lucas and the RSPCA have been less willing to admit they were wrong…

Viral Animal Sentience Fake News Story Seen By 2 Million People

This week a number of stories claiming the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings went mega-viral. An article on the Independent website – shared thousands of times on social media – reported “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. The Evening Standard claimed they “just voted that animals cannot feel pain or emotions”. The Indy, which has truly become one of the most downmarket trash clickbait websites around, even named and shamed the Tory MPs “who voted legislation on animals feeling pain and emotion”. These attacks were tweeted out by celebrities like Ben Fogle and Sue Perkins, politicians including Caroline Lucas and failed LibDem MP Sarah Olney, and petitions were signed by hundreds of thousands of unwitting animal lovers. The stats are huge:

  • Analysis shows 2 million people have seen articles and tweets about the Tories voting against animal sentience
  • 155,157 signed a Change.org petition repeating the claim
  • 263,476 signed another petition on 38 Degrees
  • 43,081 signed a third petition on ThePetitionSite
  • Nearly 30,000 have signed smaller petitions (that’s almost 500,000 overall)
  • Sue Perkins shared it with her 1 million followers
  • Rachel Riley shared it with her 510,000 followers
  • Ben Fogle shared it with his 336,000 followers
  • Caroline Lucas shared it with her 276,000 followers
  • The RSPCA tweeted it out to their 248,000 followers

Just one problem. It is fake news…

During last Wednesday’s debate, Tory MPs repeatedly explained that the government already recognised animal sentience and that the amendment was flawed. Read it here in Hansard – Tory MP after Tory MP stood up and agreed that animals are sentient. No MPs argued against animal sentience. It is just not true to say, as the Indy did, that “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. Anyone who has seen the Environment Secretary with his Bichon Frise Snowy, or indeed the hedgehog above, knows these viral articles are fake news. This made up story, circulated by the Tories’ opponents for solely cynical reasons, is cutting through to animal lovers who think they can trust things they believe on the Independent website. This morning Michael Gove categorically committed the government to animal sentience once and for all. He couldn’t be clearer:

“This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.”

Will that go as viral as the fake news BS that hoodwinked thousands in the last week?



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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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