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House of Fraser shelves sales of raccoon fur hat after outcry

By Sophie Inge

Published 29/11/2016

One of the fur hats now removed from shelves at House of Fraser
One of the fur hats now removed from shelves at House of Fraser
Designer Helen McAlinden

The Belfast branch of House of Fraser has come under fire for selling a hat made with raccoon fur - contrary to the department store's own strict no-fur policy.

The store yesterday removed the product from the shop floor.

A photo of the offending grey hat - which has a pompom made from animal fur - was posted by an outraged shopper on House of Fraser's Facebook page.

It was designed by the Irish fashion designer Helen McAlinden as part of her collection for the store.

In the post, the shopper wrote: "Real fur on sale at House of Fraser Belfast - aren't you supposed to be fur-free?"

Commenting on the post, another Facebook user wrote: "That's a disgrace!

"That raccoon suffered a grim death for that piece of fluff."

Another wrote: "It's not like that pompom is even going to keep you warm - so why not just use bloody fake fur, especially seeing as it's just for decoration!?!?!"

A third wrote: "Disgusting. That's HoF off my list. I'll not be near it."

Others demanded that the store take it off their shelves at once.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, House of Fraser said it did not knowingly mislead customers.

"At House of Fraser, we have a strict no real-animal-fur policy and we ensure all of our suppliers and brand partners are aware of this," a spokesperson for the department store said.

"It has been brought to our attention that Helen McAlinden, one of our brand partners, is selling a product which does not comply with our Responsible Sourcing Policy and Code of Conduct.

"House of Fraser is committed to its Responsible Sourcing policy and works closely with its suppliers to ensure the policy is adhered to.

"We would never knowingly mislead our customers, and we were and are very disappointed by the behaviour of the brand.

"Therefore, with immediate effect, House of Fraser has withdrawn the Helen McAlinden item from the shop floor."

The animal rights group PETA UK also waded into the controversy.

"Real fur is so unpopular with consumers that unscrupulous designers who still use it have to resort to putting it on hats or key chains or dyeing it bright colours in order to sneak it past unsuspecting buyers," Elisa Allen, the director of the organisation said.

"We're sure this was an unfortunate oversight, as House of Fraser has a proud long-standing no-fur policy - and rightly so, since every scrap of fur comes from animals who probably spent their short lives confined to wire cages before being painfully electrocuted."

Helen McAlinden was not available for comment.

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