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NPA welcomes Mitsubishi statement and seeks more clarity

13th Jan 2020 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has welcomed the statement by Mitsubishi Motors confirming that it will not be associating itself with a controversial Channel 4 documentary due to be aired this week.

How to steal pigsBut, with the programme, ‘How To Steal Pigs and Influence People’, still due to be shown at 10pm on Tuesday evening, the association is maintaining the pressure on Channel 4 and continues to call for it to rethink the decision to air it.

In a letter to the vehicle manufacturer, NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson thanked Mitsubishi for the stance it has taken and seeks clarity on what the decision means.

Mitsubishi issued a statement on Friday evening, in response to mounting pressure on it from the NPA and across the industry to distance itself from the programme.

The company, which has customers across the farming sector, sponsors documentaries on Channel 4 covering a wide range of often controversial subjects.

“We try to remain neutral on emotive topics. However, the upcoming documentary ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’ has the potential to cause distress. Therefore, we will not be associating ourselves with this documentary,” the company said.

In the letter, sent today, Lizzie welcomed the statement. “We and our members thank you for your understanding and support on how your sponsorship can directly affect such serious issues,” she wrote.

“As I’m sure you are aware, there has been a huge amount of interest across the farming industry in this story and, on behalf of our members, we would like to understand just what that statement means a little better, if possible.”

Lizzie asked Mitsubishi to clarify its arrangement with Channel 4 regarding this programme and how will this impact on its support for documentaries on Channel 4 in future, considering their varied subject matter and content.

She added that the NPA would be more than happy to meet Mitsubishi ‘to discuss our members’ experiences with on-farm activists and to help deliver a robust message to Channel 4’.

Further comment

In a further comment, Lizzie added: “We are, of course, very pleased that Mitsubishi has responded to the concerns raised by us and many others about this programme. 

“But this doesn’t take away from the fact that it will still be aired on Tuesday and that it will be showcasing blatant criminal activity on pig farms that has caused great distress to farmers, who have done nothing wrong, as well as harming the welfare of pigs and posing unacceptable health risks.

“So we want to maintain the pressure on Channel 4 and are calling on it to do the right thing and pull the plug on the programme. 

"We are urging members to contact Channel 4 directly to make their feelings known. We want to send a clear message that this sort of programming is unacceptable, and as a result we will be taking legal advice to help inform further NPA action.”

Channel 4/Production company response 

Tom Calvert, head of legal at the production company, Dragonfly, confirmed the programme included ‘incidents in which vegan activists commit illegal acts’, including a Meat the Victims mass incursion. But he claimed these acts are ‘not glamourised, encouraged or condoned in any way’.

“We believe that the programme gives a fair and balanced view of the ‘Meat the Victims’ event from both sides, as well as presenting a fair reflection of vegan activism in the UK,” he said.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "This is an observational documentary on a relevant and topical subject which is widely discussed. The programme complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and does not condone or encourage criminal activity."