A senior MP has vowed to put pressure on the Government to bring in a fur imports ban while calling for an inquiry into mislabelled fur.
Neil Parish, the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, told Sky News it was an issue the Government needed to look at quickly.
He said: “Due to your Sky investigation, we will now very much put pressure on the Government to bring in a ban.
“I’m also going to talk to the Secretary of State Michael Gove for DEFRA, who is extremely keen on animal welfare and within the select committee of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which I chair.
“I would use the fact that Sky have had this investigation to look at a way we could have an inquiry into the issue as well.”
Sky News has been working with the charity Humane Society International (HSI) to highlight mass-farmed foreign fur being mislabelled as “faux” in UK stores for eight months.
We revealed major online retailers, which claim to be fur free, have been selling real animal fur but labelling it as fake.
TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon, Groupon and Miss Bardo advertised items as “faux fur” – when in fact they were made from rabbit, mink and fox.
In an interview with Sky News, a spokesperson for Miss Bardo, which we found was selling fox fur said: “We’d firstly like to say thank you for flagging this really important issue to our attention.
“We are appalled, we find it a disgusting trade and we would never ever willingly want to sell real fur on our site. We are educating all of our buyers to ensure they can see. We trust the Chinese supplier – but they need to know the difference between the faux fur and real fur.”
There have been growing calls for a foreign fur imports ban after fur farming was banned in the UK more than a decade ago.
Claire Bass, executive director of HSI, told Sky News: “Brexit gives us the opportunity to close our borders to the cruel, unnecessary and outdated fur trade. We banned fur farming in the UK back in 2000 because it was deemed unethical. Why are we now paying countries like China and Poland to keep animals in those exact same conditions?”
Our joint investigation found that online fast fashion outlet Boohoo was selling £5 earrings advertised as faux fur, but testing by a fibres expert revealed it was mink.
The company was also selling two pairs of bridal shoes made from rabbit fur, even though it claimed to have a no fur policy.
TK Maxx pledges on its website that “since 2003 we have not sold real animal fur of any type”. But we found a coat for sale on its website which was made from fox fur, despite it being advertised as fake.
A shopper also contacted us about a pom-pom keyring on sale at TK Maxx after she raised concerns with the retailer that it might contain real animal fur.
After a series of emails with the company’s customer service team over many weeks, they emailed her to say the complaint had “been investigated by our internal trading standards department” and that they had “been assured that this item is in fact faux fur”.
But tests revealed it came from rabbit. We also found mislabelled fur items sold on Amazon and Groupon.
A cross-party selection of MPs are now calling for a fur imports ban in the UK. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party told Sky News: “We simply need to have a ban on fur coming in from other countries.
“One of the things that your investigation really did reveal was the fact that this fur can be imported incredibly cheaply, which probably just speaks to really appalling conditions that those animals are kept in.”
Roger Gale MP, who is the founding member and current president of Conservative Animal Welfare group, told Sky News: “It is crazy that we banned it here, and that we are still permitting imports with the retailer, it’s not an excuse to say, ‘oh we didn’t know’ – damn well find out!”
All the retailers highlighted told Sky News they had no-fur policies, would never knowingly mislead customers and have removed the items we notified them of.
Groupon says it is “reviewing both the supplier and our internal processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again”.
TK Maxx thanked Sky News for bringing “this serious matter to our attention” – and said customers who wish to return either of the items can get a full refund.
Boohoo said: “We are very disappointed that on this occasion our high standards have been breached by the suppliers from who these items have been sourced.
“The items in question were immediately removed from sale and the breach of the policy and its standards is being investigated as a matter of urgency.”
Amazon said: “All marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available.”
In April, Sky News revealed that fast fashion outlet Missguided and House of Fraser had both sold real animal fur advertised as synthetic, despite both companies claiming to be fur-free retailers.
A fibres expert found shoes sold by Missguided were most consistent with cat fur. Rabbit fur was also found to be mislabelled as “faux” in both retailers.
On Friday Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo became the latest fashion brands to announce they are to stop using animal fur.
In October, Gucci announced it would also stop using fur from 2019, following the same decision by Armani.