BBC Wildlife Magazine editor: Columnist Chris Packham wrong to write of countryside 'nasty brigade'


BBC wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham has been cleared of breaching the corporation’s impartiality guidelines in a BBC Wildlife magazine column.

But despite being cleared by the BBC Trust, the magazine’s new editor has said Packham’s column should not have been published in the form it was.

Writing in the September edition of the title, Packham said: “It’s shameful that some conservation charities don’t stand up for foxes, badgers and
hen harriers.”

Attacking the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts, he said: “Maybe they don’t class Britain’s largest remaining land carnivore as ‘wildlife’. Maybe
they don’t see it as an essential part of our ecosystems, or think that protecting it is simply not their job. Maybe they just assume that the League Against Cruel Sports and RSPCA can handle all that tricky political work…

“Or perhaps it’s because charities like these two are hamstrung by out-dated liaisons with the ‘nasty brigade’ and can’t risk upsetting their old friends.”

Two complainants said Packham should have remained impartial on this issue as a regular BBC presenter.

The BBC said Packham was a freelance and not a regular presenter and that in any case the Watch programmes he presented were not news or public-policy focused. This meant that he was not bound by the same impartiality rules as regular news presenters.

BBC Wildlife magazine is produced under licence by Immediate Media but is still bound by BBC guidelines.

New editor of the magazine Sheena Harvey told the BBC Trust: “Coming to this magazine as the new editor and with a fresh eye, I will say
that I feel some of the language used by Chris Packham in that column was somewhat flippant and the use of a phrase such as ‘nasty brigade’ would not have been let through had I been overseeing the content.

“My aim for the future is to provide a platform for informed opinion, within the regulatory guidelines and with cogent factual and legal content, and to offer a right to reply in the next available issue to all parties concerned in the debate.”

The BBC Trust complaints committee said: “The committee considered that the fact that BBC Wildlife Magazine’s new editor would not
have allowed the term ‘nasty brigade’ to have been published, together with the fact that both complainants had been given a right to reply to it, meant that the issue had been resolved and no further action needed to be taken.”

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