Countryside campaigners have called for the BBC to sack presenter Chris Packham over his “extreme” animal rights views.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, accused the corporation of allowing Packham to pursue an “increasingly extremist agenda” after letting him write an op ed for BBC Wildlife Magazine in which he accused the National Trust, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts of failing to oppose the return on fox hunting.
Packham, who regularly presents wildlife shows such as Springwatch, accused the organisations of being “hamstrung by outdated liaisons with the ‘nasty brigade'” and said they were guilty of “fence sitting and ineffectual risk-avoidance.”
Bonner accused Packham of using his position at the BBC to promote “blatant political propaganda”.
“Chris Packham is a BBC presenter. We know that because he tells us so in his Twitter biography and because he appears on nearly every BBC programme with any link to wildlife. He is also a disciple of the animal rights movement and signs up to its creed by voicing his opposition to all the usual activities from badger culling to grouse shooting and, of course, hunting.”
He added that Packham has “continued to happily use the fame given to him by his work for the BBC to promote an increasingly extreme agenda.”
“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 is a different thing entirely.”
“The new edition of BBC Wildlife magazine carries a column by Chris Packham which is remarkable in that it picks a fight with practically everyone.
“Fox hunters and game shooters, obviously, but also, the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, of which he is vice-president, because they will not join his obsessive crusades.
“This is the clearest possible abuse of the position the BBC has given Chris Packham and as it is an on-going behaviour, rather than an isolated incident, it is difficult to see how the situation can change.
“If it does not, then the BBC’s only answer can be to remove the BBC from Chris Packham’s biography by refusing to employ him any more.”
The Times reports that Packham has become well known for his controversial views on animal rights and environmentalism. Last year he told the Radio Times that humans should stop “chasing cures for cancer” as there are too many people on the planet. He also condemned Christianity, saying: “We’re made in God’s image so everything is there to be exploited by us. It doesn’t help people’s attitudes.”
The BBC presenter previously angered farmers and rural campaigners when he described farmers involved in a badger cull as “brutalist thugs, liars and frauds”. On that occasion the BBC did reprimand him for his “intemperate” language, but did not remove him from any shows.
On the issue of hunting he has also said: “I can’t understand why anyone would want to kill animals for fun, and anybody who does, I think, is psychopathic.”
A petition calling for him to be sacked currently has over 1,600 signatures.