Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Nearly three years ago we warned the BBC that it needed to address the activity of its presenter, Chris Packham, who was abusing the reputation granted to him by a state funded broadcaster. His increasingly extreme campaigning gave the BBC ample opportunity to act, yet it has consistently failed to do so. This week, however, the BBC itself reported that Packham had been promoting supposedly bio-degradable ‘Oxo’ plastic bags on BBC programmes whilst secretly being paid by Symphony Environmental, the biggest UK manufacturer of Oxo products. He was given the opportunity to respond to these allegations on the BBC news, but declined to do so.
We do not believe this is an isolated incident. For instance, Packham was heavily involved in promoting ‘The Big Tick Project’ purportedly to raise awareness about the risks to dogs from ticks. The project was widely covered in the media including on BBC platforms. None of the reporting, however, included the fact that he was being employed by the veterinary medicine company MSD Animal Health specifically “to drive sales of Bravecto, a product to prevent dog ticks”.
Our original, and ongoing, concern about Packham’s behaviour is that he uses the position granted to him by the BBC to abuse and attack farmers, gun owners, hunts and anyone else he has decided that he does not like. As I wrote three years ago we are lucky live in a liberal democracy where people are able to hold any number of bizarre views. There is no issue with people voicing such opinions, but using the position granted by a public service broadcaster to promote an extreme agenda, or indeed to make yourself a lot of money, is a different thing entirely. The interesting question now is whether the BBC will take action. The broadcaster has tied itself in endless knots to exempt Packham from its own Editorial Guidelines when he was attacking our community. Will it take action now it appears he has been taking cash for BBC access?
The BBC had the opportunity to address this behaviour and nip it in the bud. It failed to do so and as a consequence its own reputation is significantly diminished. It must now, finally, act to ensure that the man who has so clearly brought it into disrepute can no longer do so.
Follow me at @CA_TimB