Chris Packham did not forge death threat, say Police

Further to yesterday’s blog where I revealed that the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) had told Police they had ‘evidence’ to believe Chris Packham had probably faked his own death threat (see here), today the story has hit a national newspaper but not in the way in which the SGA had hoped.

They’d probably hoped to embarrass Chris, undermine his credibility, cast him as a villain and turn public support against him. What they’ve done is the complete opposite and shown themselves as the blithering, nasty idiots they are.

Here’s what appeared in the Sunday Times today:

A complaint made by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association against the TV naturalist, who wants grouse shooting banned, has been refuted.

His support for a ban on grouse shooting has ruffled feathers. Now tension between Chris Packham and Scottish gamekeepers has boiled over after police were asked to investigate an extraordinary suggestion that he may have written himself a death threat to smear the shooting lobby.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) lodged a complaint with Hampshire Constabulary last month that questioned the authenticity of a letter sent in 2019 to the television naturalist, who lives in the New Forest. The complaint included reports from two graphologists commissioned by the rural body, which has 5,300 members, to compare the letter with examples of Packham’s handwriting found online.

Hampshire Police said on Friday evening that the complaint had been reviewed and no action would be taken. Packham, 59, one of Britain’s best-loved naturalists with more than 450,000 followers on Twitter, has come out with guns blazing.

“I’m pretty obviously not the sort of bloke who writes death threats to himself”, he said this weekend. “I’ve got plenty of better things to do. Like campaigning about the relentless illegal persecution of birds of prey on Scottish grouse moors. And this action by the SGA is transparent – they are playing the man because they can’t win the game”.

Gamekeepers have accused campaigners such as Packham of escalating tensions between the pro-and anti-shooting lobbies. Many feel their profession is unfairly maligned. A recent Scottish government survey suggested that 64% of Scottish gamekeepers experienced threatening behaviour or abuse from the public at least once every year.

Packham, however, said the killing of golden eagles and hen harriers on grouse moors was a “national embarrassment for Scotland”.

He added: “Due to their criminal fraternity, [the SGA] are losing – licensing of shooting estates is coming, mountain hare culling has been banned and muirburn is constantly under the spotlight, due to its negative impacts on our climate. Frankly, they’re desperate to the point of embarrassing themselves”.

Packham went public about the death threat in April 2019. He reported it to the police and later released it on social media. Written in block capitals with a ruler to disguise the handwriting, it stated that Packham’s address was known and warned him to be “very, very careful…we want you dead”, with references to a car crash and poison.

It is understood that one graphologist commissioned by the SGA believed there were strong similarities between Packham’s handwriting and the writing in the letter. Another, from London, found “moderate” similarities. When this newspaper became aware of doubts being raised over the letter’s authenticity, analysis was sought from a forensic document examiner who concluded that Packham was not the author.

Packham said the letter was forensically examined by police. His fingerprints were not on the letter, he said, and no matches for several other prints were found against a national database.

Last week, the SGA insisted that the reports it commissioned “were worthy of police investigation” and would be “retained for our members”.

“We believe we undertook our duty to our members who felt that handwriting similarities they they alleged to have seen, ought to be investigated further. We did so, by taking external expert advice. In similar circumstances, we would take exactly the same course of action again”.

He added: “We understand that Chris Packham is a television celebrity…contracted by the BBC to provide content on wildlife programmes. We understand and respect that he would want to provide his view”.

In April 2019, Packham found two dead crows hanging outside his thatched cottage, an act he described as “ghastly”, after a decision by Natural England to revoke a general licence for birds to be shot after a campaign by Packham’s pressure group, Wild Justice. It upset farmers who were prevented from killing pest birds such as crows that can kill lambs.


To be honest, I’m surprised that it was the Sunday Times who took this piece on. It’s more tabloid fodder than broadsheet. However, the Times has produced a fair article that includes context (i.e. Chris’s campaigning work to ban driven grouse shooting) and includes the full quote from Chris, not an edited version cut to support a particular narrative.

I did laugh, though, at the inclusion of the line that ‘64% of Scottish gamekeepers experienced threatening behaviour or abuse from the public at least once every year’, as if this justifies the SGA’s appalling behaviour. In any case, that is a mis-reported interpretation of the Scottish Government’s report, which actually showed that between 10-13% of Scottish gamekeepers had reported abuse from the public at least once every year (see here). And not to diminish that stat in any way, the Times should have provided balance by reporting the abuse that some of us, including Chris, receive on a daily basis, not just once a year but every single day, week in week out, from members, supporters, a former Director and even current Committee members of the SGA (see here).

All in all though, this latest malicious attack on Chris Packham by the SGA has backfired spectacularly, with Twitter in meltdown last night with support for Chris, including from a number of MSPs. If I was an SGA member I’d be pretty upset with the idiocy of the so-called leaders, for once again bringing the organisation in to disrepute.

34 thoughts on “Chris Packham did not forge death threat, say Police”

  1. The SGA should put some effort into weeding out bad apples. They should put some effort into retraining and and adapting to the new reality. By ignoring and railing against the public will, they do their own members a great disservice.

    1. Good on the police and the Sunday Times.
      The problem for the SGA in weeding out the bad apples is that maybe they are afraid it will leave the barrel somewhat empty.

      1. Surely the problem is that the barrel itself is poisoned so that any apple in it is either already rotten or currently rotting?

        1. Probably true, and probably also why so many keepers and shooters are giving this extremest organisation a major body swerve.

          1. Hi Circus, you might be right but sadly there are also a similar number of keepers for whom the SGA is too moderate. Sounds impossible I know, for such a nutty organisation, but I have sat in company with a good few keepers who are members of no organisation at all (but who have strong friendship groups connected to their and their neighbouring Estates), and who just mutter bitterly about all the shooting organisations being “too soft” and being too close to the RSPB etc by even engaging with them once in a while.

    2. No, no. Keep the bad apples – and encourage an increase in their numbers. It’s one sure way of eventually consigning DGS to the rubbish bin of history.

  2. All this achieves is a few more members of the public who will learn more about what is really going on.
    SGA please keep this up.

  3. As with so many perpetrators of wrongful acts, the accusers are simply projecting their values onto the victim. This alleged smear is exactly the kind of thing they would do so they automatically assume it’s the sort of thing everyone else does. This is at best low empathy (if not outright narcissism), which is to say they are so bound up in their their own view of the world that they are unable to comprehend anyone else’s lives.

    I’m not sure they are capable of feeling shame, either so I guess we can expect more of this nonsense going forward…

  4. Unfortunately, some readers of the RPUK twitter feed appear to be under the impression that the SGA are actually responsible for the death threat (for which, of course, no evidence exists). While I understand that this is due to them failing to read the article before commenting, and simply responding to the accompanying picture, I think it needs to made plain to these folk that such misinterpretation doesn’t help our cause. Indeed, it only provides the criminals with another reason to play the victim.

  5. Why would a professional graphologist involve themselves in this nonsense?

    We should force the SGA to name their sources as I believe they are lying. And is there scope for a libel case here? Let’s nail them.

    1. The libel thing is interesting.

      Complaints to the police carry absolute privilege, so you can’t be sued for defamation.

      So an ideal way to sling mud without having to worry about being held to account for it.

      I can’t help but wonder whether the SGA haven’t been a lot more cunning than we’ve given them credit for in how they’ve gone about this.

  6. I’m so very pleased to read this. What a pathetic escapade by the SGA to try and discredit, in a most malicious way, a very credable and much supported naturalist as Chris. How much further will they, and other such organisations stoop to these levels. Glad it backfired. Oh and another thing, once a year abuse Ha, if what they do is perfectly legal(mostly abhorant to me) they shouldn’t need to try these tactics. Totally support you and your colleagues Ruth who put up with so much but rise above it. Must be very hard…. And trying.

  7. Shot them selves in both feet and the forked tongue was out for all to see.
    “We believe we undertook our duty to our members who felt that handwriting similarities they alleged to have seen, ought to be investigated further. We did so, by taking external expert advice. In similar circumstances, we would take exactly the same course of action again”.
    Sure they would only of course if it was to malign somebody who campaigned against their alleged criminality.
    All one can say is if I was an SGA member I would be demanding the numpties who decided on this course of action resign immediately.
    Keep it up chaps you are making the whole world look at your “countryside sports” with new interest and its not going to be a favourable outcome for you! What with this and Hoggwash complaints about drink drive rules.

    Keep up the pressure Chris they are seriously rattled!

    Perhaps while we are at it we can persuade the agent in charge of the keeper in the YDNP who uses an Eagle Owl as a decoy to shoot Buzzards to resign from all his memberships of the Zero tolerance shooting organisations and pressure groups plus any positions he holds on their behalf. Oh and I’ve seen a flying pig chasing a pink elephant this morning!

  8. I know size isn’t everything, but the figures in the article tell an optimistic story.
    The SGA has 5300 members while Chris Packham has more than 450,000 followers on twitter!
    This article will hopefully increase that gap.

  9. I hesitate to add my experience to this thread but I think it’s relevant. The modus operandi is basically the same as claiming that Chris Packham faked his own death threat.

    Two tyres on my van were slashed near a shoot and the gamekeeper blamed anti-shoot protesters.

    (Please delete if not thought relevant.)

    1. Was this between Harrogate and Skipton by any chance Jeremy? There have over the years been a number of cases of that associated with the Blubberhouses area. Did you report it to the police, I would have, I’ve been threatened with it once in Nidderdale but it has fortunately never happened.

      1. Hi,

        No, it was on a new shoot in mid-Wales. Yes, of course i reported it to the police; they “had a chat” with the gamekeeper and he gave them the same story. And there was no evidence, of course.

  10. I can hear some among the SGA muttering, “Ach, Packham’s a sly wee basket. He’ll have got one his mates to write it! Aye – yon Avery or wee Bill Oddie or that blondie haired lassie off eh Springwatch, ye ken! Lets test their handwriting too!”
    Where will it end?

  11. For your info. The article isn’t in the print edition in the Midlands.

    [Ed: Thanks, Andrew, Scottish Sunday Times]

  12. This comes hot on the heels of the news that the Mash Report, a satirical current affairs programme, is to be axed because it is a little too ‘lefty’, hosted by Nish Kumar, who (although no-one would admit it), is probably xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx

    One should not be too surprised if Chris Packham’s celebrity status doesn’t suffer a similar fate at the hands of the people who complain the most about ‘cancel culture’, whilst being it’s most enthusiastic proponents.

    1. The thing is Chris does not infringe any impartially (despite what others may claim) , he only campaigns for the law to be upheld, he doesn’t use springwatch to campaign for anything other than that more people enjoy nature and the natural world.

      If he gets cancelled for campaigning for an end to illegal activities then the BBC will be open to all sorts of censorship accusations.

  13. We need you badly Chris and praise be to Mother Nature, know you will never give up. You are so right – the killing of Golden eagles and other birds of prey on Scottish grouse moors is a national disgrace and your courage in the face of these disgraceful threats and abuse is an inspiration in courage and conviction to principles. Many many thanks from a supporter in Scotland.

  14. I tried to check the SGA facebook page but found I had been blocked. Seems like the SGA are at work in ensure those who have spoken out on social media criticising some elements of shooting, even occasionally as in my case, are not able to look at their behaviour. I suppose somewhere on a list I am labelled as an animal rights extremist!

  15. Maybe if the SGA want to get to the bottom of this, they could ask all their members, and all other gamekeepers in the rest of Britain to submit, fingerprints, DNA, and handwriting samples, so they could be eliminated?

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