How to Steal Pigs: Unions call for Channel 4 to pass information to police

UK farming unions have called for the makers of Channel 4 documentary ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’ to pass information relating to illegal activities shown in the programme to police.

The programme is due to air tonight (January 14) at 10:00pm.

It comes after vegan protesters seemingly inspired by the programme took a pig from a farm in Northern Ireland today.

Despite complaints from farmers and agricultural lobby bodies, Ofcom has refused to step in to stop the broadcast declaring itself a ‘post-broadcast regulator’.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman confirmed to AgriLand that it still planned to broadcast the programme despite the incident.

She 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. The documentary will air as planned.

A joint statement from NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union read: “We are deeply concerned that Channel 4 is broadcasting this documentary, despite being contacted beforehand by those involved in the farming industry who know only too well the very real impact that this kind of criminal behaviour has on farmers, their families, their business and the health and welfare of their animals.

“We believe that the title and trailers for ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’, with promotional wording talking about ‘daring farmyard heists,’ shows that the programme-makers regard this illegal activity as trivial and humorous.

“Channel 4 has said the programme will not glamorise or condone illegal activity. We are interested to know how this statement is compatible with its own admission that the documentary will feature illegal activity by activists.

We want to understand what efforts the broadcaster has gone to pass information on to the police regarding any criminal behaviour it has either filmed or featured in the programme.

“Farms are not only businesses, but they are also homes for families. It is quite astonishing that Channel 4 has chosen to commission and broadcast this programme given the dreadful impact that these attacks have on the health and wellbeing of those farmers targeted.

“We do not understand why farming families are being seen as fair game by the broadcaster and treated differently from other British citizens who all have the right to be protected from criminal behaviour and not to see those criminals given airtime and profile.

“We fully support the actions of the NPA who are taking legal advice regarding this programme.”