In August, hunt saboteurs stopped a shoot on which Lord Botham was one of the guns, from taking place in the Peak District. A post on the hunt saboteurs' website stated that “Beefy Botham out for a duck as sabs storm Peak District shoots”, in response to which Chris Packham tweeted “Oh dear, what a shame, next . . . More top work by @HuntSabs”.
Aggravated trespass is a criminal offence, and individuals can be arrested if they are intentionally obstructing, disrupting, or intimidating others from carrying out lawful activities. Those, like Packham, who support their illegal actions on social media are just as guilty as the perpetrators on the ground, and to do so is unacceptable. Whilst the BBC has strict impartiality guidelines, certain presenters such as Chis Packham are treated as ‘freelance contractors’, and apparently the guidelines therefore do not apply to them. In the words of one BBC spokesman, ‘Chris is not exclusive to the BBC, isn’t a factual journalist, and isn’t speaking as a BBC presenter’. That is clearly utter madness, as people associate him with the BBC, and when he is discussed in the wider media, he is commonly referred to as a BBC presenter. Suggesting he is not, is a blatant example of gaslighting.
In view of Chris Packham’s public support of the criminal activities by saboteurs, and the need to ensure the impartiality of all those employed by the BBC, the Countryside Alliance launched an online petition calling on the BBC to extend its existing impartiality guidelines to all its presenters, regardless of their employment status, or stop employing them. Over 6,400 people used the petition to contact the BBC to stress the need for the Corporation to do just that. The Alliance also wrote to Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director General, reminding him of his statement, made at the time of his appointment, that those wanting to be opinionated columnists or partisan campaigners on social media should not be working for the BBC.
This is not the first time that the Alliance has complained to the BBC about unacceptable behaviour by Chris Packham. Given the Corporation’s continued lack of interest in this issue, it invariably won’t be the last, and we will continue to lobby the BBC to extend its impartiality guidelines to ensure they also apply to him.
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