NPA taking legal advice over Channel 4 programme

The NPA has revealed it is taking legal advice over the controversial Channel 4 programme, How to Steal Pigs and Influence People.

The association welcomed the statement by Mitsubishi Motors on Friday evening confirming that it will not be associating itself with the documentary due to be aired this week.

But, with the programme, ‘How To Steal Pigs and Influence People’, still due to be shown at 10pm on Tuesday evening, the NPA is looking to maintain the pressure on Channel 4.

NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: “We are, of course, very pleased that Mitsubishi has responded to the concerns raised by us and many others about this programme.

“But this doesn’t take away from the fact that it will still be aired on Tuesday and that it will be showcasing blatant criminal activity on pig farms that has caused great distress to farmers, who have done nothing wrong, as well as harming the welfare of pigs and posing unacceptable health risks.

“So we want to maintain the pressure on Channel 4 and are urging members to contact them directly to make their feelings known.

“We want to send a clear message that this sort of programming is unacceptable, and as a result we will be seeking legal advice to help inform further NPA action.”

Letter to Mitsubishi

In a letter to Mitsubishi, NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson thanks the vehicle manufacturer for the stance it has taken and seeks clarity on what the decision means.

Mitsubishi issued a statement on Friday evening, in response to mounting pressure on it from the NPA and across the industry to distance itself from the programme.

The company, which has customers across the farming sector, sponsors documentaries on Channel 4 covering a wide range of often controversial subjects. “We try to remain neutral on emotive topics. However, the upcoming documentary ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’ has the potential to cause distress. Therefore, we will not be associating ourselves with this documentary,” the company said.

In the letter, sent today, Ms Wilson said: “We and our members thank you for your understanding and support on how your sponsorship can directly affect such serious issues.

“As I’m sure you are aware, there has been a huge amount of interest across the farming industry in this story and, on behalf of our members, we would like to understand just what that statement means a little better, if possible.”

She asked Mitsubishi to clarify its arrangement with Channel 4 regarding this programme and how will this impact on its support for documentaries on Channel 4 in future, considering their varied subject matter and content.

Channel 4/production company response 

Tom Calvert, head of legal at the production company, Dragonfly, confirmed the programme included ‘incidents in which vegan activists commit illegal acts’, including a Meat the Victims mass incursion. But he claimed these acts are ‘not glamourised, encouraged or condoned in any way’.

“We believe that the programme gives a fair and balanced view of the ‘Meat the Victims’ event from both sides, as well as presenting a fair reflection of vegan activism in the UK,” he said.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “This is an observational documentary on a relevant and topical subject which is widely discussed. The programme complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and does not condone or encourage criminal activity.”

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.