Chris Packham ‘victim of dirty tricks campaign by grouse shooting lobby’

The Countryside Alliance, with others, has long been trying to silence Chris Packham by either calling for him to be sacked from the BBC or “reined in”, e.g. here and here, by claiming that Chris “abuses his position” as a BBC presenter to “promote an extreme agenda”.

It’s amusing then, to see the BBC calling out this campaign in an article in today’s Mirror:

The article is reproduced here in case it disappears:

Shooting enthusiasts have been accused of staging a “dirty tricks” campaign to get Chris Packham sacked from the BBC.

They accused the Winterwatch star of breaking BBC rules by plugging a dog tick treatment he has links to.

Wildlife-lover Packham, 57, is an outspoken critic of grouse shooting.

Abzed, a company which lobbies for grouse-shooting, claimed Packham was employed by a PR firm representing MSD Animal Health to help sales of its insecticide Bravecto.

It alleged he did not declare that interest while appearing on BBC shows in 2015 to speak about the “Big Tick Project”, a campaign which raises awareness of ticks on dogs.

Abzed put forward Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance.

Bonner, whose organisation is also pro fox-hunting, claimed: “Buying Mr Packham is the way companies buy BBC coverage. This is not public service broadcasting, it is the BBC for sale.”

But a TV source hit back, saying: “At no time did Chris ever mention the name of the drug, only to say there were treatments available.

“The fact events a number of years ago are being pored over to find some sort of smoking gun is just dirty tricks.”

The BBC also insisted: “This is a spurious claim given there’s no evidence of Chris promoting this product in his role as a BBC presenter.”

Packham has claimed killing of wildlife on driven grouse moors “is a relentless, year-round slaughter”.

Opponents of shooting say it is directly contributing to a rapid fall in the number of hen harriers, which prey on grouse.

Countryside groups and the Government say grouse shooting is a legitimate activity which boosts the rural economy.

London-based Abzed is run by Ian Gregory, who last night insisted he did not call for Packham to be sacked.

But he said: “The drug company’s PR firm… boasted about how successful his involvement was in getting a huge amount of coverage across the BBC for its sales campaign.

“It then bragged about how successful that campaign was at boosting sales. So Chris Packham was chosen by the drug company because the BBC has made him famous and he used that fame to promote the drug’s sales campaign on the BBC. These are facts not dirty tricks.”


Here’s that BBC quote again:

The fact events a number of years ago are being pored over to find some sort of smoking gun is just dirty tricks“.

Well done to that BBC source! It follows an earlier statement from the BBC in 2016 following complaints received from BASC, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation about Chris publishing a non-BBC video about driven grouse shooting and, quite reasonably, using his personal twitter account to promote it. The BBC responded to the complaints as follows:

Chris Packham is a naturalist in his own right and is not solely employed by the BBC. If Chris Packham wishes to express his personal views outside of his employment on BBC natural history programmes, he is entitled to do so”.

Interestingly, BASC, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation have been in the news recently after disrupting a national meeting designed to tackle illegal raptor persecution, by refusing to attend because, again quite reasonably, new organisations had been invited to participate. We await to see whether they’ll manage to climb back in to their prams before the next meeting in April.

The PR firm Abzed, mentioned in the Mirror’s article above, funded by the grouse-shooting lobby and headed by the ecologically illiterate Ian Gregory, has also been in the news recently with what appears to be yet another smear campaign against the RSPB’s efforts to protect hen harriers, helped again by Andrew Gilruth of the GWCT who appears to be regurgitating some nonsense that dribbled from his mouth in 2017.

Chris has also been in the news recently, after being appointed CBE for services to nature conservation.

It looks like honesty and integrity are winning out over alleged dirty tricks and smear campaigns.

26 thoughts on “Chris Packham ‘victim of dirty tricks campaign by grouse shooting lobby’”

  1. You consistently supply one of the best and most entertaining reads in the UK….I am definitely “a fan” RPUK

  2. There is so much drivel coming from the mouthpieces of vested interests on behalf of the driven grouse shooting club, that you do get the distinct impression they are worried for their future. I commend them for their worrying, the hobbyists that call their preoccupation a sport are right to be concerned over their future prospects to exist. Our natural heritage is for us all, not just those few who consider themselves privileged and above the law.

    1. I too am pleased to see the BBC speaking against the killing crowd.

      On Winterwatch, Chris Packham OBE has had many opportunities to highlight the killing of things that get in the way of the game industry but he has kept quiet.

      I couldn’t keep quiet!!!!


      1. Doug: it is CBE I think and he dropped a great one into the programme last night: they showed a photograph of a Linnet and he mentioned that some people mistake them for Sparrowhawk. Now, who could he have been referring to?

        1. Oops! Sorry about my confusion. I heard the Linnet/Sparrowhawk comment but dismissed it as a slip of the tongue.


          Perhaps my error could be corrected, please.


  3. Keep it up Chris I am backing you as you only calling those who break the law. They think they can do these evil deeds because they are above the law

  4. As I’ve observed before the CA et al had no scruples about using the late Clarissa Dixon-Wright, an obscure cook until the BBC made her into a celebrity chef, to promote both themselves and a pro-blood sports agenda. They clearly had absolutely no problem about her taking a prominent role as their spokesperson before, during and after their “Countryside March” in 2002 even though she was still making programmes for the BBC at the time. Perhaps this is because those programmes (“Clarissa and the Countryman”) were little more than a series of adverts for blood sports. Nor did they have a problem when, during one episode, she made abusive comments about those protesting about the soon-to-be-banned hare coursing. In this context, it’s hard to find a more blatant example of hypocrisy than their constant whining about Chris Packham whose scrupulousness is beyond doubt.

    1. I’d forgotten that John, thanks for reminding me. Of course the Countryside Areliars and the Union of Game Molesters and Wildlife Killers still have a regular BBC mouthpiece, its called Countryfile.

    2. Exactly! The difference is of course the braying, empty mouthpiece that she was she was actually a great advert for the antis rather than the CA lot (a bit like Botham), whereas CP’s stock with the public just gets higher and higher the more they know him. I met someone who had worked in a media agency that had CDW as one its clients. The staff hated dealing with her, she obviously thought they were beneath her. Hardly the biggest shock in the world that a pro hare courser isn’t very nice to people either.

  5. They really are quite despicable aren’t they. Yes, honesty and integrity are winning… and that means Chris Packham is winning. I’ll back him any day.

    1. Janet it means truth, honesty and integrity are not only winning but we all are too! I suspect that whilst we can all think of several stalwart folks like Chris who are leading the fight against the hypocrisy, lies and criminality of the country ” sports” brigade “We” the ordinary supporters of these various campaigns are all needed to help convince the majority of interested folk and our politicians ( once they are free of Brexit navel gazing) to act on our behalf. these utterances from the opposition should indeed give us heart and enthusiasm because it means we have got them worried and hopefully on the run but don’t underestimate the nastiness when we get them finally cornered.

  6. Chris Packham has our total respect and support in his total commitment to the future of our environment and ALL that is part of it.We need more people to truly RESPECT.

  7. The nasty brigade will do anything, try anything or say anything to try and swing things their way, why don’t they just stop breaking the law then it will all go away, simple. As for Chris, decent honest bloke who’s heart is in the right place, I know who I’m backing, keep up the good work Chris

  8. This is both absurd and disgusting. Chris is not a BBC employee. For instance I believe the other year he presented a programme on Yellowstone Park for National Geographic. Chris only appears in a few weeks BBC programmes at the most each year, and therefore is no more a BBC employee, than an actor appearing in a BBC production.

    Owen Jones of the Guardian wrote an article last year about how if the BBC is politically neutral, then how does it explain using Andrew Neil, who has a life-long association with right wing political interests, and makes highly political comments in the media etc. Yet Andrew Neil presents Daily Politics for the BBC. Not even a weekly, but a daily programme on politics. My point is that this is far more overtly political than anything Chris Packham has ever said (I have no idea whatsoever what Chris Packham’s political leanings are, or even whether he has any). But there is not doubt whatsoever where Andrew Neil’s political leanings are). Andrew Neil does highly political things like denying climate change, and disputing climate science. He has even featured notorious climate change deniers like Johnny Ball on his Daily Politics show, and allowed them to present videos, with no opposing viewpoint, despite these being contrary to mainstream science. I’m using this to illustrate the outright hypocrisy and sophistry of the arguments used by shooting interests. This is because there are any number of figures still regularly presenting BBC programmes who have made overtly party political points of view, and as I say, Chris Packham is totally opaque when it comes to party politics, Far from political, Chris has campaigned on the law to be uphold, wildlife crime, and matters of ethics and the public interest. All in a very politically neutral way, unless that is these shooting organizations are claiming this wildlife crime is facilitated by a political party.

  9. I hope this blog will be getting retweeted during tonight’s winterwatch on the #winterwatch and #bbcwinterwatch hashtag, and again during this weekend’s Countryfile broadcast on the #Countryfile and #BBCCountryfile hastags too. Lots of people read the twitter streams during broadcast and tweet along, so inserting this information into the discussion is an easy PR move.

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