Newspaper misled readers on the state of battery hens being rehomed by charity

The Press Complaints Commission has resolved a complaint against the Mail on Sunday over an article on the poor state of hens from battery cages being rehomed by a Devon charity.

Jane Howorth, founder of the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, complained that an article had presented a misleading and poor impression of the condition of the hens being re-homed by her charity.

In her regular column, Liz Jones described how she adopted six former battery hens through the Battery Hen Welfare Trust back in January of this year. “When I picked them up in January, from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust in Devon, they barely weighed, well, a feather. They would have weighed a feather if they hadn’t been bald.

She added: “They were covered in blood. Their beaks were misshapen. They were so weak they could barely stand, let alone walk or grasp a perch.”

The Mail on Sunday agreed to publish a letter from Ms Howorth clarifying that: “The ex-battery hens Liz Jones collected from us in January 2008 were generally in good condition, not ‘covered in blood’ nor ‘almost pecked to death’ as she wrote.

“Her sensationalist article only illustrated how shock tactics and negative spin achieve nothing – it directly damaged farm relations, resulting in the loss of thousands of hens we could have homed. “We do not subscribe to farmer-bashing. On the contrary, we are staunch supporters of the UK egg industry, encouraging growth in the free-range sector and preferring to see continued cage production in the UK than imports from abroad where we often have no control over welfare,” said Ms Howorth.