Country Life editor urges BBC not to give in to Brian May and the 'bullying' badger lobby

The editor of Country Life has urged the BBC not give in to the "bullying badger lobby" after complaints following a documentary the corporation aired about his title.

Writing in today's Times Mark Hedges says he hopes that following the programme "the grip that pop star Brian May and his Badger Trust has on the media and the dairy-farming industry loosened a touch”.

Hedges added: “There are always two sides to a story, and we are proud that we have enabled the farmer’s story to be told at last. A single-issue group should not be allowed to bully this BBC for doing that.”

The BBC2 programme Land of Hope and Glory, which aired on 4 March, followed Country Life magazine over a year of its production and included an in-depth focus on a dairy farmer in Somerset who has TB in his herd.

Farmer Maurice Durbin said he has not been able to trade properly for four years because of TB.  Durbin says that without a determined cull of badgers his livelihood and the whole dairy industry is doomed.

Hedges said this is because the “animal that people find attractive could do some damage”.

The programme has so enraged the Badger Trust that it has written to the BBC director general Tony Hall demanding a meeting. The campaigning group claims the programme failed to “provide due accuracy and impartiality” under the BBC’s Royal Charter and the Ofcom broadcasting code.

Dominic  Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said: “The BBC failed to show sufficient caution in this area when producing Hope and Glory. On a number of occasions in the programme a clearly distressed and emotional Maurice Durbin appeared to be encouraged to make angry remarks about badgers and those who seek to protect them.

“In one scene the camera zooms in on Mr Durbin after one of his cattle has tested positive for TB, for him to say ‘bloody badgers’. In another part of the programme Mr Durbin talks of ‘do gooders telling farmers what to do’ and how he is placing himself at personal risk by talking of the need to kill badgers.”

In 2014 the BBC's Pallab Ghosh won science journalist of the year at the British Journalism Awards for exposing the failure of the government badger-culling scheme.

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