Michael Mansfield QC, the prominent human rights lawyer, has passionately condemned Fortnum & Mason for continuing to stock foie gras.
‘It’s the right thing to do’…Michael Mansfield QC
Writing in the Huffington Post, Mansfield – who is best known for representing the Lawrence family, whose son Stephen was murdered in 1993 – says that despite the public outcry against foie gras, which he describes as ‘vile’ and ‘cruelly produced’, Fortnum’s still sells it.
In the 600-word comment piece, Mansfield lambasts the luxury Piccadilly grocer, which was founded in 1707.
‘Without a shadow of a doubt, foie gras production is one of the cruellest of all the very many cruel things done to animals on today’s factory farms,’ he writes, ‘and foie gras is one of very few products made by intentionally inflicting disease on animals.’
He accuses Fortnum’s of making ‘unsubstantiated animal welfare claims’, referring to a 2011 Westminster Trading Standards ruling that forced it ‘to stop making misleading statements about its foie gras’.
Mansfield says it is ‘unfathomable’ that the retailer should hold two Royal Warrants, which ‘should be bestowed only on establishments with extremely high standards’.
‘They shouldn’t be bestowed on businesses that sell a product that is illegal to produce in Great Britain or on a company that makes unsubstantiated animal welfare claims.’
Under both UK and French law, the barrister argues, it is illegal to kill an animal without prior stunning, a practice which takes place at French facilities ‘that supply foie gras to Fortnum’.
Mansfield was referring to an undercover film made in 2012 by the animal rights group PETA, which said the farms featured supply Fortnum & Mason with foie gras. The retailer denied this.
Signing off, Mansfield writes, ‘The day is near when foie gras will be impossible to obtain in this country, and it can’t come soon enough. But until then, stores such as Fortnum & Mason should simply remove it from their shelves – not because the law requires it but because it’s the right thing to do.’
PETA said, ‘Force-feeding of birds for foie gras production, which is already banned in the UK, is allowed in just five European countries – including France – which is why Fortnum & Mason shamefully pays French farmers to force-feed geese on its behalf.’
Fortnum & Mason said, ‘Foie gras is sold in shops throughout the UK, and is used in many top restaurants. We do understand that it is not to some people’s taste, and we respect their right to make their feelings known. However, foie gras has been on sale at Fortnum’s down the centuries, and a sizeable number of our customers enjoy it. We believe they should have the freedom to choose whether to buy it or not.’
Written by Adam Lechmere