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Chris Packham petition: why there are calls for the BBC to sack presenter over general licence campaign

The i logo The i 25/04/2019 Laura Martin
Chris Packham in a red shirt © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

A petition set up calling for the sacking of BBC presenter Chris Packham has been signed by 73,000 people in 24 hours.

Packham - who presents Springwatch - has come under fire for campaigning against the killing of "pest" birds in the UK, such as crows, woodpigeons and jays, leading Natural England, the Government's conservation watchdog, to revoke a licence permitting this earlier this week.

Packham set up a private, non-profit company called Wild Justice with conservationists Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay, who launched a legal challenge to change the countryside laws around the birds.

But there has been opposition to the move - and now some people are calling for Packham to be sacked.

Calls for Packham to be sacked

a person holding a sign © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Andrew Hayes, who set up the petition on Wednesday 24 April, said: "As an employee of the BBC, Chris Packham should remain impartial and keep his views and beliefs to himself. However, he is the face of many anti-hunting campaigns and uses his celeb status as a platform to push his anti-hunting agenda, he has made his goal to ban all kinds of hunting, and country sports and pursuits and I feel he is no longer fit to work for the BBC."

One commenter said: "His biased opinions and hatred of countryside management are damaging our country."

Wild Justice says on its website that the group has been "been set up to fight for wildlife." It adds: "Threatened species can’t take legal cases in their own names but, with your help, we will stand up for wildlife using the legal system and seeking changes to existing laws."

His fans set up an opposing petition

(Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, an opposing petition asking the BBC not to sack Packham has also been signed by a similar number of people, 70,000, at the time of writing.

This campaign was set up by Rob Neil. He says: "Chris Packham is a much loved and respected naturalist and presenter, who campaigns for wildlife and conservation. The Countryside Alliance and other organisations are calling for the BBC to sack him, in other words silence him, for speaking out in his campaigns. We think his campaigns for wildlife are justified, as they are based on scientific evidence, and he keeps his campaigning and role at the BBC separate."

One person who signed the petition commented: "Chris has an informed reason for all his views. Chris has a right to speak the same as the rest of us plus he is really nice so leave him alone to get on with helping and explaining to the rest of us."

(Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

As part of Wild Justice, Packham and his colleagues said of the ruling: "We are delighted to have won this legal case. What sort of world is it where the statutory body with responsibility for wildlife protection is operating a bird-killing licensing scheme that is unlawful? Millions of birds are killed each year under the terms of the General Licences and many of these deaths will not be justified.  We are grateful to over 1100 individuals who funded this legal challenge and allowed us to take it with the means to progress it through the courts."

The BBC has been contacted for comment.


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