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BBC’s Emily Maitlis hits back at ‘pet-shaming’ critics

Emily Maitlis has claimed that she is a victim of ‘pet-shaming’ in a push-back to critics who slammed her for letting her dog sleep on a train seat.

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The Newsnight presenter explained that the whippet – which was recovering from an injured leg – leaped up on to the seat after three hours sprawled on the carriage floor.

Earlier this week rail passengers branded the broadcaster ‘disrespectful’ when the photograph of her pooch Moody on a ‘busy’ London-bound train from Cornwall went viral.

But Maitlis, 48, has pointed out that the ‘outraged passenger’ who snapped the viral picture had also included another man with his feet up in the shot, suggesting it was not a crammed train. 

She wrote: ‘He has been photographed napping on the seat and I have been pet-shamed by an outraged passenger who clearly didn’t notice that the incriminating photo also contained the trainered feet of a passenger stretched out on the row behind us,’ in an article for the Sunday Times. 

Maitlis said that she on Moody were returning from a day at the seaside to give the canine some fresh coastal air in the wake of his stint on antibiotics.

On their train ride back to the capital, she said that the whippet was ‘squeezed onto the floor, his head lying on [a] Spanish woman’s feet.’

After one passenger left the train at Reading, she explained: ‘The dog jumps up into the seat next to me and instantly falls asleep. And that, dear reader, is where the story ends.

‘Or should have done. The next day, however, I see the dog everywhere.’

Great Western Railway, who ran the service starting in Penzance last Sunday, have said pets are allowed on their trains – but must not be on the seats.

Critics have said the train’s guard or ticket inspector should have intervened. 

When the video was circulated on Twitter, Maitlis came under fire from passengers and rail campaigners.

Fraser Pithie, of the Campaign for Rail, said in a statement: ‘The rules do not give animals any right to take up seats. Dogs must remain on the floor. 

‘Even guide dogs are not allowed on seats. A train guard should have spoken to her.’ 

One witness, travelling from Reading in Berkshire to London, told the Mirror that Moody was on the seat for at least 25 minutes before arriving into London.

The onlooker said: ‘I was really surprised to see the dog on the seat. There wasn’t even a mat or newspaper underneath it.

‘When I boarded the train it was really busy. A lady was looking for a seat and ended up sitting behind Emily and not on a seat with a table, where there is more room.       

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