Ministry Of Defence Flatly Rejects PETA’S Offer To Give All Campaign Money To Disabled Soldiers Fund, End Of Bearskins Use Not In Sight

For Immediate Release:
3 September 2008

Alexia Weeks 020 7357 9229 ext. 229; [email protected]; mobile 07921 871019

London – PETA made a generous offer to Lady Taylor, Minister of State (Armed Forces) Bob Ainsworth and other major MoD brass during a meeting at Whitehall late yesterday afternoon. PETA’s military special advisor, Reg Pycroft, promised that if the MoD will not procure any bearskins from this month on, PETA will give substantial funds – all those currently budgeted for the campaign – to the Help for Heroes Fund to assist limbless soldiers and others wounded in Britain’s current and much-criticised conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The MoD flatly rejected any consideration of the offer.

While giving its word to PETA that it will “continue the search” for a faux-bearskin material suitable for the existing cap design – including holding a trade day where synthetic materials providers will be invited to show their wares – the MoD admits it has no timeline and no immediate plans to switch from real bearskins. 

Baroness Taylor  told PETA’s representatives that faux-fur is on the MoD’s horizon and that “no one in the MoD, in or out of uniform, is opposed to faux fur”, but would not commit to moving quickly and sought concessions from PETA to end the campaign if bears could be brought from existing pelt stocks.

PETA has told the MoD that the British people and the millions of tourists who pour into London each year are being let down by the MoD’s foot dragging and failure to set a time line for replacing the caps, or replacing the material with synthetics.

“We are now hearing from former and current Guardsmen that they are on our side,” PETA’s military advisor, Reg Pycroft, told the meeting.

PETA is holding firm and finds any further use of bearskins insupportable. In addition to continuing to pressure the MoD, PETA intends to move on a parallel track, opening up its search for suggestions for a new cap to international design schools this week. PETA is also continuing talks with top designers Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and anglophile designer Marc Bouwer.

“We thought at first Baroness Taylor was joking when she suggested that PETA agree that the Guards’ caps could still be made of real fur if the bears had been run over by a car, but she was actually serious,” says PETA Director Robbie LeBlanc. “As long as the MoD buys from auctions and hunters, the skins will continue to come from free-living bears, including mother bears whose cubs are left to starve after they are shot. The British public has spoken, and even Guardsmen themselves and retired Forces members are calling us to say we must be strong in our demand for an end to the bearskin caps – not in six months or a year but now. We don’t need bearskins, with tyre tracks or without.”

The Guards only need 900 caps at any given time. Even patching the caps can be done from existing faux-fur swatches rather than real bearskins.