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Chris Packham speaking at Hen Harrier Day 2016

Chris Packham’s fundraiser highlights how wildlife killers try to operate in secret

Chris Packham is taking legal action against hunting and shooting industry media platform Fieldsports Channel. And you can donate to help him pursue the case in the courts.

Unknown persons have targetted Chris Packham in recent years with a series of unsavoury acts. Someone strung dead crows up on his gate, for example, just months after the conservationist helped launched campaign group Wild Justice in early 2019. Then, nearly a year later, a dead badger was left hanging from his gate. More disturbingly, in October 2021, two people set fire to a Land Rover outside his house that subsequently exploded.

However, in 2019, just days after the crows were strung across his gate, someone mailed a death threat to Packham. He described it at the time as “of a very serious nature”, and added:

“They have listed a whole catalogue of things they might do … ‘we could organise a car crash, we could organise poisoning you, we could organise all of these sorts of things’.”

The writer(s) of this letter remain unknown. However, it was the actions of Fieldsports Channel that provided Packham with an opportunity to hold someone to account.

Bizarre allegations

As the fundraising page itself stated, Fieldsports Channel writer Ben O’Rourke claimed in June 2022 that Packham:

“wrote a fake death letter to himself and that he dishonestly claimed that it was sent to his home by an anonymous member of the shooting and farming community.”

The page adds that Fieldsports Channel also, amongst other allegations, falsely represented Packham’s actions around a defamation claim the presenter is pursuing against fellow hunting and shooting industry content provider Country Squire Magazine. The claims have the potential to affect Packham’s livelihood. As a result, he is pursuing a case of libel against Fieldsports Channel.

Packham himself told the Guardian that:

“People should simply not be able to get away with hate terrorism and they must be held to account if there is any hope that we might live in a respectful, decent society.”

Ruth Tingay – friend of Packham, co-founder of Wild Justice, and author of Raptor Persecution UK – started the fundraiser. She said Packham has so far covered the costs of the defamation case against Country Squire Magazine himself but that “defamation proceedings are expensive and there is no guarantee that costs and damages will be fully recovered”. She started the fundraiser to help cover ongoing cost with Packham’s legal team from Leigh Day.

While the initial fundraising target was £20,000, at the time of publishing donations totalled nearly £110,000.

They picked on the wrong Packham

Hunt saboteurs and monitors, of course, face regular attempts of intimidation, assault, and worse. But it’s not just those engaged in direct action against wildlife-murdering industries that face such action. Packham’s high profile status means he has become something of a red rag. And ITV News reporter has Rupert Evelyn faced similar problems. Evelyn’s partner, Alex Evelyn, tweeted in Oct 2022 about the “intimidation” faced by the family since Rupert began reporting on hunting:

https://twitter.com/alexrevelyn/status/1576844002594238464

This type of intimidation is part and parcel of the hunting and shooting industries’ attempts to protect themselves. It shows they believe they need to control the public narrative over their activities in order to continue operating. And when someone comes along to drag their grimy secrets out into the sunlight, their vulnerability flares and they react viciously.

They may have picked on the wrong person in Packham, though. His fight is a fight for all of us and, most importantly, one that will aid wildlife.

You can donate to Packham’s fundraiser here.

Featured image via John Ranson