Asa Rules Against PETA’S Ad Featuring Face Of Baby P Abuser Steven Barker

For Immediate Release:
2 February 2010

Sam Glover 020 7357 9229, ext 229; [email protected]

London – The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against the PETA Foundation in the case of a Haringey billboard that shows the face of Steven Barker – who was convicted of abuse in the Baby P case – and reads, “Steven Barker: Animal Abuser, Baby Abuser, Rapist. People Who Are Violent Towards Animals Rarely Stop There. Report Cruelty to Animals Immediately”. The ASA says that the ad breaches the organisation’s code by upholding a complaint that it was “offensive and distressing”. The ASA has overruled PETA’s argument that studies show that people who abuse animals when they are young – as Steven Barker did – often go on to commit violence against fellow humans. PETA contends that its ad’s message is potentially lifesaving and too important to ignore. As a child, Barker skinned frogs before breaking their legs and tortured guinea pigs. He was also found guilty of raping a 2-year-old girl.

“Cruelty to animals and children is inherently shocking, and in creating the ad we hoped to prevent other children and animals from suffering the kind of shocking abuse that Baby P and Mr Barker’s animal victims suffered”, says PETA’s Poorva Joshipura. “It is imperative that any community faced with animal abuse take measures to stem the violence before more children and animals are attacked or killed.”

The ASA says that it also upheld the complaint against the ad because “the poster had appeared in the area where Baby P had lived and died”. In fact, the billboard was also displayed in Wales – in an area where cats had been poisoned – and PETA had planned to use the ad nationwide.

The American Psychiatric Association identifies cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation uses reports of crimes against animals in analysing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals. Child-killers Mary Bell, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables as well as serial murderers Ian Huntley, Thomas Hamilton, Fred West, Dennis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Jeffrey Dahmer all started on their paths to violence by deliberately harming animals.

The PETA Foundation’s correspondence with the ASA is available upon request. For more information, please visit