Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking legal action against the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) over its decision not to test a fake fur version of the bearskin hats worn by ceremonial guards.
The tall black hats are used by the elite military units, including the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.
PETA has long campaigned against using Canadian black bear fur for the hats and has developed a version made from hairy acrylic material, produced by French company Ecopel.
Canadian black bears are medium-sized bears native to North America, known for their distinctive black fur. They have big personalities and are beautiful sentient beings. They have a keen sense of community and are emotionally intelligent animals who genuinely love their kids.
PETA has filed for a “judicial review” of the MoD’s decision, alleging “unlawful conduct”. “We are seeking the court’s intervention so that the MoD fully evaluates the report and reaches a fresh decision by fair process,” PETA’s lawyer Lorna Hackett said.
The animal welfare organization had the fake fur hat tested at a MoD-accredited laboratory and says it meets ministry criteria on how strong and waterproof it is.
“They refuse to test it, which they had committed to do numerous times over the years,” PETA senior campaign manager Kate Werner said. “And so now we’re at the stage where we’re mounting a legal challenge to try to force the MoD to reconsider its decision.”
Earlier this year, the government said there were “no plans” to switch to fake fur, adding that the fake fur hat backed by PETA “does not in fact reach the standards needed to provide an effective replacement for our bearskin ceremonial caps”.
Werner pleads that real fur is unnecessary: “No one would ever notice. This is an iconic symbol of Britain, but we want it to reflect the morals and values of our society.”
In July, parliament discussed a switch to fake fur after an online petition gathered over 100,000 signatures.