A Conservative MP from Devon has criticised the RSCPA for comments its chief executive Gavin Grant made over the badger cull.

Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said the charity’s anti-cull stance was a “politically motivated” campaign to raise its profile and generate funds.

“I chair the all-party group for animal welfare and am very supportive of genuine animal welfare – and so are farmers,” said Mr Parish.

“At ground level, the RSPCA is still very good, but they are losing donations all the time, and are getting rid of staff. They are really struggling. And to raise money, they have to raise their profile.”

During last week’s BBC Panorama programme, Badgers: Dodging the Bullet?, Mr Grant said the spotlight of attention would be turned on marksmen and landowners who gave permission for the badger cull to take place. “They will be named and we will decide as citizens of this country whether they will be shamed,” he said.

The NFU claimed Mr Grant had overstepped the mark, confirming that the RSPCA was no longer a responsible charity with animal welfare at its core.

And Mr Parish agreed. “The RSPCA is using this as a politically motivated campaign to raise money and that is absolutely wrong. We have to go out there and counter it, and I’m confident we can do that.”

Mr Parish said despite the backbench parliamentary debate, which voted against the cull, he was confident if it went to a binding vote in the House of Commons politicians would still support it. “It’s been through two judicial reviews – the position is there. “This is about disease control – nearly 6,000 cattle are slaughtered in Devon alone due to TB each year – a lot of which are youngstock, with their whole lives ahead of them. Vaccination won’t work on infected badgers. It was the right thing to stop the cull plans this year – it was too late to start. But we have got to start the cull on 1 July next year.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “Our opposition to the badger cull is not a publicity stunt. While it is true that the charity is facing financial challenges, the same could be said of many organisations and not simply charitable ones that rely on donations from the public.

“It is unacceptable for the NFU and others to attack the RSPCA’s chief executive, Gavin Grant, who has the full support of the RSPCA for advocating a position we have held for years.

“As with all charities, the RSPCA has a responsibility to advocate in accordance with our charitable purposes and that is precisely what we are doing on this scientifically flawed, inhumane and unnecessary cull of badgers.”

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