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Bob Rawlins' Right to Reply

Readers of the BAS Alpaca magazine may have seen Bob's article and the astonishing personal attack printed at the end of it. Bob felt he needed to respond to readers individually by letter. Warmwell.com is pleased to be able to publicise his right to reply to a personal and unwarranted attack.

Dear B.A.S. Member,

I am saddened that the need has arisen to send you this message. You may be aware that I was asked to write an article for the BAS magazine 'Alpaca'. It appeared on pages 26 and 27 of the summer edition recently distributed. The article related how a web site had been created for (a BAS member) Anne Young at 'Alpacas of The Lakes' in her struggle to keep her healthy alpacas and merino sheep alive. This article was printed, but with a reply, a very personal attack on me from Mr. Harrington-Smith, who said he represented the B.A.S. Board.

Mr. Harrington-Smith's attacking reply was printed without an opportunity for me to respond publicly, indeed when I was asked to contribute to the Alpaca magazine, I had no idea that this would result in such a personal attack. I feel sure any response I make via the alpaca magazine will end on the cutting room floor, as did one other letter sent to the magazine for publishing in the letters column. Therefore, I have elected to reply to each member individually, so incensed am I

I consider my article to have been written in a non-threatening factual manner. It was written following a request from the Editor to explain to members without Internet access, how alpaca owners had used this web site (Merinosheep.co.uk). How they had pulled together to help prevent the unnecessary slaughter of Healthy animals including alpacas and llamas. You will have your own opinion of the content and your own opinion of how the FMD outbreak was handled. This article stated that there were different opinions. The content where I mentioned the BAS committee was taken from a letter circulated to members by the B.A.S.

Animals including alpacas were reprieved from slaughter, not on emotional grounds, but by supplying MAFF with research already available to argue the case for quarantine.

You may feel as I do, that the response from Mr. Harrington-Smith was not justified, neither was it reasonable, accurate or polite. Putting it bluntly I found it offensive. I telephoned him asking for an explanation for the attack. His response to me was one of arrogant indifference. It is fortunate that I am not the kind of person to be put off by intimidation and bullying otherwise you would not be reading this.

As a member of the BAS, I am saddened that a member of the BAS Board can treat me in such a way. Publicly denouncing members in a personal attack within the Society's magazine with no recourse to reply, is a disgraceful way for a board member to behave. If Mr. Harrington-Smith disagreed with my article's content, why not call me before publication to discuss it?

The BAS membership has cause to expect better leadership than this. The A.G.M. is fast approaching. I look forward to being a member of a society, where the opinions of members are viewed as a positive input to decision making.