SAFE: “Political advocacy advertising” by a registered charity – lobby group

SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation Incorporated), a registered charity (CC40428), funded an expensive “political advocacy advertising” “campaign” on Television Four during 2012/13 – aimed at changing New Zealand law to bring an end to factory farming of pigs and chickens. The slick emotive propaganda depicting scenes of emaciated and crowded caged farm animals, screened at 7.35 p.m. during “a family orientated movie”. Towards the end a SAFE logo appears along with the words: ”imagine a world without factory farming” pointing viewers to the website “” (run by SAFE campaign director Eliot Pryor and featuring a promo by SAFE director Hans Kriek). The song “Somewhere” was played in the background as a piglet was shown sprouting wings and escaping from the crate. (Mr Pryor was part of the ground crew coordinating the blockade of Mainland Poultry by SAFE and other animal “rights” activist groups in June 2012).


In response to a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by M. Burton, who described the SAFE advertisement as “appalling”, “emotive” and using “ cynical shock tactics” to influence vulnerable children, the ASA Board ruled (Decision 13/051) that the “images shown in the advertisement were emotive and may be distressing to some viewers”. Whilst it ruled that the advert did not exceed the limits of GXC classification guidelines, it noted that the Commercial Approval Bureau on behalf of Media classified it as “political advocacy advertising”.

The charity SAFE has only two “objects” in its Constitution and both were approved as “charitable” when it was registered as a charitable entity by the Charities Commission on 30 June 2008. They are:

(1) “raising awareness of the suffering, abuse and exploitation of animals” and

(2) “promoting education on human-animal relations”.

SAFE gained charity status on the basis of its “Advancement of Education”. However, it is well-documented and obvious to the public and media that one of its primary objects (deliberately unstated) is to change the law in relation to the treatment of farmed animals – and this involves it aggressively engaging in “political advocacy” campaigns that go much further than just raising awareness of a problem(s).

SAFE’S call for “STOPfactoryfarming” is a very different propaganda call to one that encourages farmers to merely modify their farming practices and comply with existing New Zealand law.

In its response to the ASA Board investigation, SAFE tried to defend its propaganda advert stating that its purpose was to:

“… inspire and empower people to TAKE ACTION ON BEHALF OF THESE ANIMALS. The TVC invites people to suspend belief – to believe in a world where animals can sing and pigs can fly, an END TO FACTORY FARMING is in fact possible” [Emphasis added].

Eliot Pryor and his team of political campaigners are so passionate about changing the law that they break the law to impose their beliefs on others. For example, blocking a roadway and preventing workers accessing Mainland Poultry in 2012, deprived other citizens of their rights to go about their lawful business. Such unlawful actions are the ‘bread-and-butter’ pursuits of Greenpeace activists and Greenpeace has so far been refused charity status based in part on its involvement in such activities.

On the positive side, registered charities are entitled under the Charities Act 2005 to engage in “political advocacy” if it advances one or more of its charitable purposes, provided the extent and degree of such advocacy is only ancilliary to its purposes.

In the case of SAFE’s advertising campaign and its officers’ protest actions that breached the law, such activities involving demands for changes in the law, are not signalled in any shape or form in the purposes of the charity.

Whilst not upholding the complaint from M. Burton, the ASA Board took the view that “the advocacy advertisement [engaged in by SAFE] was intended to raise awareness about the cruelty of caged animal farming”. However, it clearly went much further than that by pointing to its propaganda website “”. A careful analysis of the activities of SAFE (see: and its associated websites reveals that SAFE is an animal “rights” lobby group that perpetually advocates for a particular point of view and is intent on changing the law.

“Advocacy advertising” is a expression of opinion and is a desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society” (Principle 11 ASA Code of Ethics). However, in the case of SAFE, there appears to be nothing in its constitution that connects it with this charity’s perpetual advocacy of the view that the law on farming practices must be changed to prevent the alleged widespread “cruelty” and “torture” of animals in New Zealand.

Note: In another complaint against the advertisment from O.Turk (Decision No. 13/043 dated 21/02/13) the Chairman of the ASA ruled that there were “No Grounds to Proceed”, but did note that it constituted “advocacy advertising”.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa – a registered charity serving the “public good”

“The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission on 15 September 2010 (Charity Reg. No. CC45333). However, there has never been any legally incorporated entity by this name in New Zealand (e.g. incorporated charitable trust or incorporated Society etc.). “The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” is an unincorporated “Trust” with its “Trust Deed” dated 1 May 2010 specifying three trustees on its “Board”, available on the Charities website ( Two of the founding trustees are still current officers for “the Trust”, two two new trustees were appointed in 2011.

Under section 15 of the Charities Act 2005, if the Commission is to register any legally constituted entity as a charity, it must only do so under the applicant’s full and correct legal name (see Appendix I below).

It is important to understand that “Veganz the Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust“, a Charitable Trust (Reg. No. 1230157) incorporated on 31 July 2002, is legally distinct from “The Vegan Society of Aotearoa“- an unincorporated “Trust”. The former is NOT registered with the Charities Commission.

One must wonder whether the Charities Commission Registration Team ever accessed the “Search Other Registers” on the Companies Office website ( to determine whether or not The Vegan Society of Aotearoa was a registered incorporated legal entity. It is not.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa” was granted “charitable status” under charity law in 2010 and was assessed by the Charities Registration Team as “benefiting the public, or a section of the public”, in a manner that was “identifiable”, “clear”. and “related to its charitable aims”. Its Purpose is set out under s. 3 of its “Trust Deed” dated 1 May 2010:

The purpose of the Trust will be to promote veganism as an environmentally friendly, healthy and compassionate way of life. In particular the Trust will….”

3.1 further the knowledge and interest in sound nutrition and veganism, and in vegan methods of agriculture and food production as a means of increasing the agricultural potential of Aotearoa, to the physical, economic and moral benefit of all living beings.

3.2 provide a means of  social contact and exchange of information for new and existing vegans by way of regional social support and provision of resources.

3.3 develop and maintain positive relationships with organisations sharing similar aims.

3.4 encourage the research, study and use of alternatives to all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

3.5 take any action consistent with this charitable purpose.

After a thorough inquiry into the activities, ‘doctrines’ and objects of  this [unincorporated] “Trust”, the Charities Commission accepted that the exclusive primary “beneficiaries” of this charity were “vegens”, who are all required to pay membership fees.

According to section 2 of the registered Trust Deed dated 17 July 2002 of  Veganz the Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust (an incorporated entity which is not a registered charity):

A Vegan is a person who knowingly chooses not to consume, use or wear any products produced from animals or which contain animal by products; and avoids products that have been tested on animals or involves cruelty or abuse of animals in their research or production stages. Veganism stands for respect and compassion for animals (including the human animal).”

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa provides a list of all the animal items prohibited for vegans: “meat (fish, shellfish, livestock or poultry) eggs, dairy products, honey, gelatine or use of leather belts, fur silk, wool, cosmetics or soaps derived from animal products.” (Source:

The Charities Commission has graciously granted The Vegan Society of Aotearoa permission to vastly extend the official public record of the “beneficiaries” to their Society’s “charitable activities” to effectively include: all animals used as a source of meat and/or other food product by man, and all those used as a source of health products and/or clothing materials. Many of these animals are indeed true “beneficiaries” of the charity as they owe their very lives to the charitable work of Vegans, who actively persuade fellow New Zealanders to desist and abstain from their “moral crimes” against the Animal Kingdom (e.g. eating animals and using their by products), and jump on board the Vegan lifestyle bus to help green the planet and save its bio-diversity.

The Vegan Society of Aotearoa promotes “protection of animals”, “conservation” and “the environment” according to the Charities Commission website. Such broad activities have been ruled by the Commission to be “charitable purposes”.

In a sense, all its “charitable activities” can be viewed as detrimental to much of our New Zealand farming industry that forms the backbone of our export trade. Urging people to desist and abstain from eating meat and all other animal products would be viewed by most New Zealanders as detrimental economically to the “public good”.

Most ordinary and reasonable New Zealanders would reject the view that providing vege recipes and information of Vegan food outlets on a website to Vegans and sponsoring vegetarian family fun-days where vegan charity members and friends can delight themselves in the  partaking of vege food, constitute “charitable activities”. They would see no “public benefit” in allowing paid up members of  to pursue their own private lifestyle choices.

Everyone has the right to pursue a vegan lifestyle, or for that matter naturalism, as a lifestyle choice, or  any indeed other private hobby. Both vegans and naturalists claim to offer health rewards to those who embrace their respective lifestyle choices. Both claim a vast body of research evidence supporting the superiority of their respective  lifestyles compared to normal lifestyles (eating meat and wearing clothes).

Both have followers that actively expose themselves to the public to win over public empathy and support and recruit new members to the ‘faith’. There are many vegans who are “animal rights activists” and take part in protests ‘baring all’. Yes nudity is regularly their favoured tool to win recruits and lobby for their political views. Who can forget those grim animal rights promotional photos of nude men and women hunched over in foetal positions confined within battery hen cages?

The six million dollar question is:

Should groups of naturalists and/or vegans be granted “charitable status” based on their claims that their lifestyle choices positively impact society or a group within society, to such a significant extent that they provide “public benefit” and “the moral benefit of all living beings”?

The Charities Commission has clearly given a positive answer to this question, ruling that the purposes of The Vegan Society of Aotearoa are “charitable” and come under one of “the four charity heads” (e.g. presumably “advancement of education”).

The Vegans website states:

“The society is a friendly, informative and professional organisation. It offers resources, information, event notifications, product advice, vegan role models,  recipes and support systems. We put out a quarterly magazine and advise on many things via the website.”

Its homepage mouth-watering articles include: …. “OUR TOP PICK: Navigating the ethically treacherous waters of chocolate.” and “Veg-Yummy Places .. [re] vegetarian-friendly or vegan restaurants.”

The 20010/2011  financial accounts of The Vegan Society of Aotearoa that were required to be filed with the Charities Commission no later than 30 September 2011, have yet to be filed and are now almost twelve months overdue. And yet Despite this very serious breach of the Charities Act 2005, this unincorporated Society has not been deregistered or removed from the Charities Register.

The former Chief Executive of the now disestablished Charities Commission, Mr Trevor Garrett, was recently reported by The Hutt News as saying

“… charitable organisations registered with it [the Commission] that had not filed returns six months after the end of their financial year were sent a reminder letter. They get a more “strongly worded” reminder a month or two later and at around three months overdue – which is where HMCT is – “we get to the stage where we look at de-registering. That’s how seriously we take it.”

Mr Garrett had been asked for comment by the paper’s editor, Mr Simon Edwards, on whether or not “The Hutt Mana Charitable Trust’s persistent late filing of financial returns risks it being struck off by the Charities Commission, losing its tax exemption status.”

Dr Carolyn Corderoy, a senior lecturer in Victoria University’s School of Accounting and Commercial Law, who has been engaged in a detailed research investigation into the compliance failures of charities being ‘monitored’ by the Charities Commission with respect to their financial returns, and who was referred to in The Hutt News; has concluded that the levels of non-compliance by charities in New Zealand raises serious concerns.

According to the Charities website (, The Vegan Society of Aotearoa last filed its financial accounts with the Charities Commission for its financial year ended 31 March 2010. These accounts, uploaded onto the Charities website on 6 October 2011, reveal that its total gross income was $2,950 – sourced from $935 donations and $2,015 from membership fees. Its total expenditure in the year was $306 and the net surplus was $2,644.

It is run with the services of five voluntary staff involving an average about 20 hours of combined work from them, on average each week. There are no paid workers or employees.

It appears that the Charities Commission Registration Team have seen fit to grant The Vegan Society of Aotearoa charitable status under the “third head” [“Advancement of education”] of Lord Macnaghten’s four heads of charity.  It recognises its primary charitable contribution is to be “Community Development” in the specialist roles of “education/training/research”).

Vegan recipes have niche and no-doubt financially lucrative markets on a global scale. Animal activism and vegan charities go hand in paw.

Vegan education is advancing thanks to the Charities Commission, fostered and nurtured via the promulgation of vegan lifestyle teachings and practices.

The “public benefit” gained from New Zealanders embracing the doctrines, teachings and lifestyle patterns of vegans or coming under their influence has been positively grasped in full by the Charities Commission. The uptake  by true believers of the vegan lifestyle will undoubtedly issue in a more holistic, green and animal friendly planet… surely a truly charitable goal for any charity registered by the Charities Commission.


1. Charitable Trust late again with returns, agm

The Hutt News. 3 April 2012. By Simon Edwards

“Dr Carolyn Cordery, of Victoria University’s School of Accounting and Commercial Law, took a quick look at HMCT’s trust deed last week and said to be four months’ overdue on filing and holding an annual meeting was “poor”. ”

2. Trust Deed of VEGANZ: The Vegan Society of New Zealand Charitable Trust dated 14 December 2004.

3. Application For Incorporation Of A Society As A Board. Dated 17 July 2002. Received from VEGANZ by National Processing Centre 31 July 2002.

4. Trust Deed of VEGANZ dated 17 July 2002






15 Name of entity

The name of an entity complies with this section if—

  • (d) the entity is established, or constituted, by an Act under that name; or

  • (e) in any other case, in the opinion of the Board, the name is not—

    • (i) offensive; or

    • (ii) liable to mislead the public.

Section 15(e): amended, on 1 July 2012, by section 16(1) of the Charities Amendment Act (No 2) 2012 (2012 No 43)

The Church of Scientology of New Zealand Inc. – registered NZ charity assessed as serving the “public good”

The Church of Scientology of New Zealand Inc. [“CoSNZ”] was ruled by the New Zealand Charities Commission in 2008 to be a body established for a charitable purpose – the advancement of religion under the third head of charity law. All its six religious objects were ruled to be “charitable” and the controversial activities of the church – auditing and training of its financial members – were, in effect, ruled to be serving a “public benefit” – i.e benefiting non-members of the church.

Its Rules state:

The object for which the Church is established (hereinafter “the Object”), and to which all provisions of these Rules are subservient, is to operate exclusively for charitable, religious and educational purposes solely within New Zealand, and, in particular, for:

2.1 The espousal, presentation, propagation and practice of, and the maintenance of the purity and integrity of, the religion and the creed of Scientology.

2.2 The advancement of the  religious and other charitable work of Scientology Churches and Missions in New Zealand.

2.3 The regulating and conducting of religious services according to the  rites of the Church.

2.54 The maintenance of the fabric and furnishings of Scientology Churches and Missions in New Zealand.

2.5 The production and dissemination of Scientology religious works.

2.6 The advancement of religious education and other charitable work in accordance with the doctrines and practice of Scientology.

According to the NZ Charities website ( CoSNZ employed 21 full-time workers and six part-time workers in the financial year ended 31 December  2010: involving on average, per  week, 914 hours of paid employment. The church is overdue in its filing of its financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2012 (due date 30 June 2012). Its gross income in 2010 was $1,235,207 sourced from “service provision” ($341,417), donations ($495,559), investment income ($$11,316) and all other income ($386,915). Its total expenditure was $966,858, comprising salaries and wages ($151,418) and service provision costs of ($475,522).

Scientology was ruled by the Charity Commission for England and Wales as failing the “public benefit” legal test applied to charities, in that public benefit was not established. It was ruled to NOT constitute a religion.

However, the New Zealand Charities Commission, which has now been disestablished and absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs, ruled CoSNZ to be a bona fide religion in 2008 and granting it charitable status. Once under the “religion” covering the Commission presumably made an assumption that its activities must therefore be of “public benefit”. However, it is noteworthy that:

“The Commissioners [England and Wales] considered the core practices of Scientology, namely auditing and training, and concluded that the private conduct and nature of the practices together with the general lack of accessibility meant that the benefits were of a personal as opposed to a public nature. Accordingly, following the legal test referred to above, public benefit had not been established.”

Source: Extracts quoted from:

[The] Charity Commission [for England and Wales]. Decision of the Commissioners [4 pages]

Application by the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) for registration as a charity

[Made on 17th November 1999]

[Emphasis in original]

For full Decision see:

Legal test of “public benefit” applied to charities: the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) fails test

The Church of Scientology (the Church) is an international organisation which promotes a belief system, doctrines and practices known as Scientology. The Church has its international headquarters in the United States…. The Church has now now established a company incorporated under the Companies Acts and limited by guarantee called Church of Scientology (England and Wales) (CoS) to further its work in this country. In September 1996, CoS applied to the [Charity] Commission [for England and Wales] for registration as a charity pursuant to section 3(2) of the Charities Act 1993

CoS argues that it is a body established for the charitable purpose of the  advancement of religion under the third head of charity law, or, in the alternative, if not so established, that it is established for a charitable purpose which promotes the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community under the fourth head of charity law. Whether under the third head or fourth head of charity law, CoS argues that it is established for the public benefit…

The Commissioners having considered the full legal and factual case put to them by CoS, and having reviewed the  relevant law, taking into account the principles embodied in ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] where appropriate, decided that CoS was not established for charitable purposes or for the public benefit and was therefore not registrable as a charity under section 3(2) of the Charities Act 1993.

In making that determination the Commissioners further concluded that:

(1) The CoS is not charitable as an organisation established for the  charitable purpose of the advancement of religion because, having regard to the  relevant law and evidence, Scientology is not a religion for the purposes of English charity law.

(a) The Commissioners, considered that the legal authorities establishing the meaning of religion in charity law were ambiguous, but having construed such authorities in a way compatible with ECHR they concluded that the definition of religion was characterised by belief in a supreme being and  an expression of belief in that supreme being through worship. Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 WLKR 1565, Dillon J at p. 1572 D-E.

(b) … The Commissioners concluded that Scientology believed in a supreme being.

(c) The Commissioners decided that the criterion of worship would be met where the belief in a supreme being found its expression in conduct indicative of reverence or veneration for the supreme being….

The Commissioners decided that auditing and training do not constitute worship as defined and interpreted from legal authorities.

(2) That CoS was not established for the charitable purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare and improvement of the community.

(a) The Commissioners considered that CoS was not analogous to the established legal authorities which governed this area of the law. Re Scowcroft [1898] 2 Ch 638, Re Hood [1931] 1 Ch 240, Re Price [1943] Ch 422, Re South Place Ethical Society. They concluded CoS was not analogous to the decided cases because it promoted a formal and highly structured system of belief (which it regarded as a religion), necessitating membership of or adherence to a particular organisation for access to or participation in its doctrines, practices and beliefs such that these were not generally available to the public at large. However the Commissioners further concluded that these legal authorities were ambiguous.

(b) The Commissioners considered and interpreted these authorities compatibly with the ECHR and concluded that the key aspects of the charitable purpose of promoting the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of the  community which could be discerned from these authorities was that the doctrines, beliefs and practices involved were generally accessible to the public and capable of being applied or adopted by them according to individual judgement or choice from time to time in such a way that the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of the community might result, Re Price, Cohen J at 423. Accordingly, the Commission concluded, it would be possible for non-religious belief systems promoted by a membership organisation to be established for such a purpose if those criteria were satisfied.

(c) The Commissioners considered in relation to the doctrines and practices of CoS whether these were so accessible and capable of such application, but concluded that because of the nature and organised practice of the beliefs of Scientology they were on balance neither so accessible nor could be so applied such that the moral and spiritual welfare or improvement of  the  community might result.

(3) That CoS was not established for the public benefit.

In considering the legal test applied to organisations established for purposes falling within the first three heads of charity law in that they were entitled to the presumption of public benefit and the different legal test applied to the fourth head of charity law where public benefit had to be demonstrated, the Commissioners considered that such a distinction between the legal tests was consistent with ECHR…. For the fourth head of charity, public benefit needed to be established although there were cases where it may be self evident and need to be proved….

The Commissioners considered whether if CoS had been established for the charitable purpose of advancing religion, it was also established for the public benefit….

The Commissioners decided that in the case of CoS, the relative newness of Scientology and the judicial and public concerns which had been expressed about its beliefs and practices, led them to conclude that it should not be entitled to the  presumption of public benefit. Accordingly, it was for CoS to demonstrate that it was established for the public benefit….

The Commissioners considered that this test [of public benefit] must be applied to the core practices of such an organisation [as CoS] and not to incidental activities or other activities which may already be regarded as charitable.

After reviewing the practices of auditing and training, considered by CoS to be central features of the practice of Scientology, the Commissioners considered that these are in fact conducted in private and not in public and that in their very nature are private rather than public activities such that no legally recognised benefit could be said to be conferred on the public. It could not be concluded that the benefits of the practice of Scientology extended beyond the participants. Accordingly public benefit was not established.

The Commissioners went on to consider whether, if CoS had been established for a charitable purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community, it was also established for the public benefit. The Commissioners considered that it was for CoS to establish public benefit as this was a purpose falling within the fourth head of charity law. The Commissioners considered the relevant legal test of public benefit to be applied to organisations established under the  fourth head of charity. The Commissioners concluded that the test was that the whole tendency of charity in the legal sense under the fourth head is  towards tangible and objective benefits but that in the case of an intangible benefit that at least approval by the common understanding of  enlightened opinion for the time being would be necessary before an intangible benefit could be taken to constitute sufficient benefit to the community. National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31, Lord Wright at p. 49. The  Commissioners considered that in the case of the purpose of promoting the moral or spiritual welfare or improvement of the community, and thus of CoS, the issue was one of intangible benefit and that in relation to intangible benefit the Commissioners considered the legal test to refer to a common consensus of opinion amongst people who were fair-minded and free from prejudice or bias.

The Commissioners considered the core practices of Scientology, namely auditing and training, and concluded that the private conduct and nature of these practices together with their general lack of accessibility meant that the benefits were of a personal as opposed to a public nature. Accordingly, following the legal test referred to above, public benefit had not been established.

Source: Extracts quoted from:

[The] Charity Commission [for England and Wales]. Decision of the Commissioners [4 pages]

Application by the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) for registration as a charity

[Made on 17th November 1999]

[Emphasis in original]

For full Decision see:


Promotion of mental or moral improvement as a general charitable purpose

“In Re Scowcroft [ [1898] 2 Ch 638] Stirling J. held that a devise … of a building “to be maintained for the furtherance of Conservative principles and religious and mental improvement” was a good charitable gift. The furtherance of religious and mental improvement was an essential portion of the gift and the gift might, as the judge observed, be supported on the ground that it was for the public benefit just as a gift of a library or museum would have been held to be a good charitable gift. Thus the decision did not depend solely on the element of mental improvement since there was also an element of general public utility. Similar considerations applied in Re Hood [ [ 1931] 1 Ch. 240] to a gift for the promotion of temperance otherwise than by political means. Both elements were present.

“In Re Price [[1943] Ch.422] the charitable character of the bequest depended exclusively on the element of moral improvement

On the evidence of the actual teachings apart from the evidence of benefit to individuals, Cohen J was satisfied that the teachings [of Dr. Rudolf Steiner – ] were directed to the mental or moral improvement of man and that they were not contra bonos mores. He held as a matter of law that the court was not concerned to determine whether the carrying on of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner would in fact result in the mental or moral improvements of anyone, and he did not find as a fact that they would. His Lordship’s finding of fact was that the teachings might have that result, and his conclusion of law was that this was sufficient to satisfy the requirement of public benefit.

“Although Cohen J. considered that the trusts of the residuary gift resembled trusts for the advancement of religion, he treated the gift as falling under Lord Macnaghten’s fourth head of charity.

“In Re South Place Ethical Society [[1980] 1 W.L.R.. 1565], Dillon J. held, as an alternative ground for his decision, by analogy with Re Scowcroft, Re Hood and Re Price, that the objects of the Society were charitable within the fourth head of Lord Macnaghten’s classification as being for mental or moral improvement.

“None of the cases considered provide a reasoned argument for the promotion of mental and moral improvement as a general charitable purpose, nor do they set any guidelines for the future application of this category of charity although the overall purpose is now fully acceptable as charitable

Extract from The Law and Practice Relating to Charities, 4th Edition Hubert Picardo QC (pp. 124-126)