Packham Bashing: An Assault on Freedom of Speech?

Chris Packham is an inspiration to many young naturalists, myself included. His unique, highly intellectual, presenting style setting him apart from many other TV personalities, and his dedication when it comes to promoting the causes in which he believes, wholly admirable. He is, arguably, the face of Springwatch – the show which first propelled me outwards, into the outdoors – and a font of knowledge when it comes to all things environmental.  Knowledge which he divulges to the masses, absent the often infuriating sugar coating of others. Highlighting the reality of nature: life, death, hardship and all. Yes, if you cannot tell already, I quite like Chris Packham.

In addition to his role as one of Britain’s foremost naturalists, Chris is also a fervent campaigner and an advocate for animal rights – unafraid to “upset” the establishment and address the woes of our embattled countryside. Another admirable trait, and one which has recently landed the presenter in hot water with certain rural factions, seemingly irked at his latest campaign to ban driven grouse shooting. Something made clear by the torrent of condemnation spewed forth by the Countryside Alliance and BASC in recent times. And, of course, the more serious (and in some cases, rather disgusting) comments of others, who Chris has “upset” in his quest to protect wildlife.

The Countryside Alliance, in particular, have taken an especially large dislike to Mr Packham it would seem, spurred on by his latest series of informative videos highlighting, what he feels are the negative implications of DGS. One of which I have included below. Indeed, in a recent statement, Tim Bonner, CA Cheif Executive, claimed that “Chris Packham’s campaigning activity has become increasingly obsessive and extreme during the complaints process and is reaching something of a fever pitch“. With the alliance now looking to silence Packham through complaints to the BBC – who have, thankfully, stood by Chris – and a plea to the BBC Trust. Submitted under the pretence that through campaigning, Chris is utilising his position to promote personal views. Views which just so happen to go against everything the Countryside Alliance, and factions, believe in. Coincidence?

While I do not profess to agree with everything Chris says – I do agree with most of it – I have found the continued attacks on the presenter, nothing short of infuriating. The personal, highly malicious assaults, most of all. More so given the fact that neither Chris, nor his managerial team, have ever promoted such actions from their own supporters. The verbal diarrhoea of those engaging in such hateful speech testament to their own idiocy. Something which, for that matter, also applies to recent, quite frankly disgusting, attacks of those behind the Raptor Persecution Scotland blog (see here). I may have written before of my frustrations centred on those in the anti-shooting camp engaging in “counterproductive” slanging matches, but this takes the biscuit and has left me thoroughly appalled.

While abhorrent, such vacuous insults are, however, not the reason for this post. No, what really interests me is the aforementioned attempt to silence Packham by certain sporting bodies. The deluge of longwinded rants which, to me, reek of desperation and serve only to belittle any argument put forth in response to the growing tide of outrage associated with DGS. Outpourings that, in my opinion, are nothing more than an attack on freedom of speech.

Yes, Chris Packham is a TV presenter – a bloody good one – and, as such, possesses a sizeable audience ready to take note of his views. He is also a person, one who cares deeply about the natural world and one who, like any of us, is entitled to his own opinions. Opinions which he expresses in his own time, not on TV – have you ever seen Mark Avery’s petition mentioned on Springwatch? No, of course not, because as the BBC have stressed, Chris adheres to their rules while employed by them. And is free to campaign to his hearts content when not.

Attempting to silence the opposition, as opposed to accepting their views and dealing with them in a manner which befits another human being, is a prehistoric tactic. One that has no place in our society. A society centred on the fact that each man: big, small, famous or otherwise, should be entitled to their view. And, for that matter, be able to act upon those views as they see fit. Packham bashing has become a sport to some it seems, though one that will only serve to bolster the resolve of those campaigning alongside him. And to push many fence sitters, such as myself, further to the left.


    1. Cheers Les. Infuriates me that some of the people who previously tried to win me over with claims of victimisation, are now spouting such bile. There’s a lesson in there somewhere…


  1. What do you expect from the landowning “toffs” they still live in the 19th century, what really irks is that they get their serfs( gamekeepers etc.) to do the dirty work.


  2. He will never be silenced, he has a very good PR team around him and like you, I admire him and his amazing knowledge of most subjects. However, on certain rural topics he doesn’t possess the knowledge make such judgements on how the countryside should be run, for instance. James, as someone who has worked on Grouse Moors on conservation (yes, I repeat conservation) studies, do you concur with the hype heaped upon its owners and keepers with their perceived widespread bad practices? Agreed, the bad apples should be removed and quite frankly until legislation changes, illegal acts are precisely that, illegal. Crow and Fox control on the other hand, although unpalatable for many is a legal management tool, one which has produced dramatic benefits for a number of ground-nesters.

    Another intriguing yet controversial discussion piece you’ve attempted here and I applaud you for that.

    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell and naturestimeline


    1. Thanks Tony. I believe that there is hope for some estates yes, though even these must tweak and change. Particularly with regards to habitat degradation. The ones I’ve worked on, though free from illegalities, still have problems. But these may be fixed through cooperation. Like you, corvid and fox control does not bother me too much – providing it is used when necessary. I do believe the hype is necessary to raise the issue with the wider public and push forward positive change. But disagree with the generalist view of keepers. I think the RSPB’s stance is perhaps the most similar to my way of thinking, licensing could weed out the negative estates/individuals. James.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks James, a most prompt response. I think the positive changes can and will eventually only come from within the industry itself, though. The public at large (myself and yourself excluded) don’t get the industry and never will, simply because I and they don’t partake in these landowners’ activities. Positive headlines are few and far between but they do exist whilst negative headlines boost your brand, sad but true! I can only hope these spats are a thing of the past soon for the good of the natural environment.

        Over and out.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another most important point to stress in all of this could equally be uttered out of my own Mother’s mouth. Words to the effect of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Talking down to people is an easy thing to do when the other person is smaller in stature to you. Let’s all be grown-ups in this and move things on from this poorly thought-out attention grabbing nothingness. Nature needs us all to come together as one.




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