The environment, food and rural affairs select committee has concluded that the “current labelling system is confusing, not fit for purpose and with a high degree of non compliance. It is also not being enforced”.
The cross-party group of MPs has also “recommended the government holds a public consultation to consider whether to ban fur”.
The political inquiry was initiated after a series of reports on Sky News revealed major high street stores were mis-selling real animal fur as synthetic.
Products advertised as “faux” fur were tested by a fibres expert and found to in fact be rabbit, mink, fox, raccoon dog, and most consistent with cat.
Sky News was invited to give evidence in parliament about our findings – as were bosses from the major retailers we featured, including House of Fraser, Missguided and Boohoo.
All the retailers highlighted say they have strict no-fur policies, would never knowingly mislead customers, and removed the items once we notified them
The committee’s report, published today, notes that many retailers told them there had been a “lack of knowledge about why a supply chain would be contaminated with real fur and this was only something that came to light with the Sky News inquiry”.
The chairman of the inquiry, Neil Parish MP, said: “Sky News brought it to our attention that there was real fur being sold as fake fur.
“We found the retailers were not finding the real fur, trading standards were not fit for purpose and we want to see a public consultation done by the government on whether in the future we should actually ban fur.”
The charity Humane Society International (HSI) argues that having banned fur farms in the UK in 2000 on ethical grounds it is “morally inconsistent” to import foreign farmed fur.
HSI UK executive director Claire Bass said: “The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming, after the British public, politicians and veterinary experts concluded that it is an inhumane and completely unnecessary industry.
“So it is total double standard for us to still be importing and selling fur from animals still suffering the same conditions we banned here.
“The UK government has the opportunity to blaze a trail as the first country to ban the sale of all animal fur, so we are delighted that EFRA committee members are pressing government to launch a public consultation to help inform and build that case.”
Last month, the Labour Party announced it would back a fur imports ban.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Sky News: “Labour are committed, we are going to ban imports. But we think there is enough support in other political parties to put pressure on the government to move, just as we did on the ivory trade.”
Over 100,000 members of the public signed a petition triggering a debate on banning fur in parliament last month.
Another 400,000-strong petition was handed in to Downing Street by Queen guitarist and animal rights campaigner Brian May.
But the British Fur Trade Association believes “it is a matter of consumer choice to wear fur or not”.
Its CEO Mike Moser said: “I welcome the recommendations of EFRA select committee.
“They represent a sensible, proportionate and pragmatic way to address the problem of misselling of both fake and real fur in the UK.
“The committee agreed with our call for stronger enforcement by Trading Standards and clearer labelling to help consumers make the right buying decision.”
“The committee does not support calls for a trade ban but instead recommends a consultation on the issue. They also recognise that animal welfare concerns should be balanced by consumer choice.”
Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, and Jimmy Choo have all banned fur in recent years, joining other top designers including Hugo Boss, Armani, and Tommy Hilfiger in opting for synthetic materials.
Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, senior fashion editor at The Telegraph, says British fashion has made a strong shift away from fur, driven by British consumers.
She told Sky News: “A lot of magazines in the UK won’t shoot fur at all, and haven’t shot fur for some years.
“Even the stores are taking note of this. Selfridges stopped selling fur in 2004, Net a Porter stopped – last year was when they made the announcement – but for years before that you wouldn’t be able to find any on their site.
“Even if designers make fur, they will find they can’t sell it in the UK.”
A government spokesperson said it shared “the public’s high regard for animal welfare”.
They added: “Trade in fur from domestic cats, dogs or commercial seal hunts are also banned, but while the UK is a member of the EU it is not possible to introduce additional restrictions on the fur trade.
“Brexit gives us the opportunity to go further. Meanwhile, we will closely consider the committee’s report and respond in due course.”