PETA Takes Ben Wallace to Court Over Bearskin Caps

PETA Takes Ben Wallace to Court Over Bearskin Caps

London – PETA has filed for a judicial review against Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace on the grounds that, when it came to assessing the world’s first faux bear – created by ECOPEL to replace the Kings Guard’s bearskin caps – the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to adhere to its own procedures, behaved unfairly, breached procedural expectation, and exhibited flawed decision-making, amounting to unlawful conduct.

In the lawsuit, PETA outlines how the MoD’s refusal to trial the faux fur or evaluate the findings of laboratory testing, which shows that the fabric meets and in some areas exceeds the ministry’s standards, is in breach of the promise that the department has long made to replace the bearskin once a suitable alternative is found. Wallace, who is responsible for overseeing the MoD, has a long history of actively opposing any switch to faux fur for the caps.

The MoD has long maintained, to the public and to Parliament, that it is not wedded to the bearskins and would replace the caps with a faux fur alternative when a suitable fabric became available. PETA, a charity, therefore invested significant resources into developing a fabric that satisfies the agreed-upon terms. Yet, even though an independent fabric technologist found that the ECOPEL material performs in the same way as bear fur does, the MoD has failed to uphold its side of the bargain. PETA was therefore left with no choice but to let the courts review the lawfulness of the MoD’s decision to reject the faux fur.

“It is outrageous that PETA has had to take long-time bear foe Ben Wallace to court to stop his department from waging its war on black bears for ornamental hats when a viable alternative is ready and waiting to be rolled out,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “The MoD has no excuse left for failing to make the switch to faux fur.”

“The MoD’s refusal to consider the findings in the laboratory report or to fully assess the faux bear fur is flawed and does not meet the requirements of public law decision-making,” says Lorna Hackett, PETA’s legal representative from Hackett & Dabbs LLP. “We are seeking the court’s intervention so that the MoD fully evaluates the report and reaches a fresh decision by fair process, with a view to considering the faux fur fabric’s adoption as a replacement for real fur if it is found to be suitable, as the MoD has long committed to doing.”

PETA notes that the MoD has repeatedly refused requests to meet with the group or ECOPEL and denied access to its cap makers, even though ECOPEL has offered an unlimited amount of the faux fur free of charge until 2030 – which would save taxpayer money and many bears’ lives. A government e-petition in support of PETA’s campaign amassed more than 100,000 signatures from the UK public, triggering a parliamentary debate in July.

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Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]