Author outraged by RSPCA trustee’s ‘farming is like Holocaust’ comment

Agnes Grunwald-Spier. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Agnes Grunwald-Spier. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A Holocaust survivor who called for an investigation into a RSPCA trustee who compared farming to the Nazi murder of Jews has had her claim rejected by the Charity Commission.

Agnes Grunwald-Spier, 70, a Jewish campaigner who recently completed her second book about the Holocaust, urged the regulator to intervene after the charity elected Peta Watson-Smith, a vegan and hardline anti-farming candidate, to its board.

The commission insisted it was powerless to respond to the concerns about Ms Watson-Smith’s appointment as she had broken no laws or rules.

Mrs Grunwald-Spier, who lives in Golders Green, told the Ham&High: “I think it was an outrageous comment. I’ve just finished researching and writing a second book about betrayal in the Holocaust.

“Even though I’ve lived with the Holocaust all my life, I now have a much deeper understanding of what the Holocaust meant.

“For anyone to compare farming to the Holocaust is outrageous. Anyone with a half a brain cell should be outraged by it.”

Ms Watson-Smith made the comments ahead of her election last month, telling The Times: “I don’t think people always appreciate what is the holocaust going on behind closed doors.

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“You talk about the Jews. This probably sounds like animal rights, but if you recognise animals as sentient beings, why are we treating them so abysmally on farms?”

As a child, Hungarian-born Mrs Grunwald-Spier narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz, where her grandfather died.

She is a former trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and member of the Board of Deputies and was made an appointments ambassador by Harriet Harman, a former equalities minister, to improve diversity on the boards of public bodies.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “Some people are disqualified by law from acting as charity trustees, such as if they have been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty or deception.

“However, if an individual is not so disqualified or is not otherwise ineligible to serve as a trustee, there is no legal reason why they cannot be a trustee.”

A RSPCA spokesman said that views expressed by candidates standing for election as trustees are “clearly their own.”