Channel 4 'How to Steal Pigs' documentary - NPA response
16th Jan 2020 / By Alistair Driver
Channel 4’s How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, which aired last night, showcased blatant criminal activity on farms, including, as the title suggests, multiple cases of pig theft.
In fact, at times, those featured appeared downright ridiculous in vain pursuit of Instagram hits to boost their finances, often oblivious to the fact that their actions were causing more harm than good to the animals they were supposedly trying to help.
A scene where an activist defied veterinary advice to put a saved hen out of its misery, claiming she didn’t care what anyone said, summed up the skewed mentality.
The mystery of what happened to Hugo, a very young piglet snatched from its sow by Wesley Omar, the main focus of the programme, was tragi-comic. Wesley had intended to boost his Instagram followers by streaming his efforts to raise Hugo, but after just one night, there was no further sign of the pig and Wesley disappeared from social media for six months. His attempts to explain Hugo’s fate were, to put it kindly, unconvincing.
There remains genuine anger within the industry over the production company’s acceptance, or even endorsement, of the criminal activity shown and the mass ‘Meat the Victims’ incursions onto unsuspecting farms.
But the overall response to the programme – which also, bizarrely featured a group of raw meat eaters at the other end of the spectrum – among the wider public and farmers was largely unsympathetic towards the activists.
NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: “We remain concerned about how Channel 4 thought it was acceptable to showcase this sort of activity that can place an unacceptable burden on farming families, cause significant pig welfare problems and present massive biosecurity risks at a time when the industry is on high alert for African swine fever. Much of the activity shown was blatantly criminal and we continue to explore our options.
“But the programme also did us a favour, showcasing what this industry has been putting up with for many years from people whose motivation is questionable and who are largely ignorant in the realities of animal rearing.
“The general consensus on Twitter was abject shock at the criminal acts depicted and that many of the activist influencers are more concerned about raising their profile to make money, rather than the animals’ welfare.
“This was perfectly demonstrated by the MTV protest and the assumed demise of Hugo the piglet, taken from the sow at just a few days old. There was a lot of support for the farmers involved, which was welcome and a reminder that vegan activists really do not hold much sway among the wider public, who generally believe in and trust what we do.”
If you felt strongly about the programme and wish to complain to Channel 4, Ofcom or even your MP, we explain how you can do that here
There was plenty of reaction on social media, including a message from Sergeant Rob Simpson, of Cheshire Constabulary, who said on Twitter:
“We support peoples varied lifestyle choices, but stealing livestock is a crime. Committing crime for social media likes and then risking the biosecurity of the farm, could result in all the livestock being destroyed. #RuralCrime #howtostealpigs #BioSecurity #Cheshire”
Other Twitter responses included:
“Another law Wes broke on #howtostealpigs - 2008/120/EEC No piglets shall be weaned from the sow at less than 28 days of age unless the welfare or health of the dam or the piglet would otherwise be adversely affected.”
“#howtostealpigs I’ve watched the first 5 minutes and can’t watch anymore. I get so aggravated by the shear incompetence of these #vegans it just beggars belief that@Channel4 would publish a documentary in my view inciting criminal activity fuelled by misinformation #bonkers”
"So someone steals a baby pig to grow his Instagram and it dies because its away from its mother. Yeah great vegans they really care, think farmers actually care more #howtostealpigs"