Criticism from farmers has forced Mitsubishi to distance itself from Channel 4’s upcoming documentary, showing vegan activists performing criminal acts on farms, including stealing pigs.
The programme, How to steal pigs and influence people, is scheduled to air on Tuesday (January 14), and looks at what the producers describe as a ‘unique community of vegan and ex-vegan influencers’ who go on ‘farmyard heists’.
The vehicle manufacturer’s branding was being shown alongside the programme trailer as part of a sponsorship deal with Channel 4.
Following backlash from the industry, Amanda Gibson, press public relations officer for Mitsubishi said: “Mitsubishi Motors in the UK is a proud sponsor of documentaries on Channel 4, but occasionally the subject matter can cause upset.
“We try to remain neutral on emotive topics. However, the upcoming documentary has the potential to cause distress; therefore, we will not be associating ourselves with the documentary.
“Mitsubishi Motors in the UK does not condone criminality or illegal and irresponsible activity in any form.”
The manufacturer’s decision comes after National Pig Association (NPA) policy services officer Lizzie Wilson slammed the programme for glamorising criminal activities carried out on farms by animal activists, calling on members to write to their local Mitsubishi dealerships amid growing anger across the farming and meat sector.
She said: “This is an extremely irresponsible programme that appears to be promoting and glamorising criminal activity.
“Our members have already suffered enough from the actions of activists that can bring despair to farming families who have done nothing wrong, while also posing health and welfare risks to the pigs – this feels like a further kick in the teeth.
“Mitsubishi has customers across the farming industry and we are appealing to it to show some solidarity with the industry and use what leverage it has with Channel 4 to stop the programme being aired.”
The NPA is said to be seeking legal advice.
The call was backed by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AMS), who also placed pressure on the manufacturer.
AIMS spokesman Tony Goodger said: “The brand’s association with this programme has the potential for significant reputational damage and we strongly urge them to withdraw their links to it.”
A joint statement from NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union said: “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.
“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.”
Responding to these concerns, a Channel 4 spokesperson said: "The programme complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and does not condone or glamorise criminal activity.
"It made it clear that the man who stole the pig was arrested, convicted and given a community service order."