Game shooting industry sinks deeper and deeper

I mentioned last week, at the very end of this blog post, that I was planning to be at the Game Fair at Hatfield House on Friday . I didn’t make a big deal of it as I have been to c20 Game Fairs over the years and been on a panel for a good proportion of them.

What I thought I was doing this Friday morning was being interviewed by Charlie Jacoby of the Fieldsports Channel in the Game Fair Theatre – on whatever subjects he wanted to ask me about (but probably general licences, grouse shooting and maybe non-native gamebird releases. Who knows? I’m perfectly used to explaining and defending my views and I rarely turn down the opportunity to do so.

What I didn’t reveal in that blog post, but I also knew, was that Chris Packham had also been asked to do a similar turn in the Game Fair theatre and had accepted. I was to be on 10:30-11:00 and Chris from 11:00 to 11:30.

But overnight last night, an email arrived in my inbox from Charlie Jacoby apologising and saying that everything was off. The high-ups who run the Game Fair – it seems they are the Countryside Alliance, BASC and GWCT – had said that neither Chris, nor I, nor some other bloke were welcome.

Here is what Charlie Jacoby says about it all: he has the nous to say that it is the game shooting industry shooting itself in the foot. It is – it is a show of intolerance and amazing lack of confidence to uninvite some critical voices. [There is a very strange email featured in the video which I think I will come back to, tomorrow (partly because it is nonsensical to me).]

Here is what Chris Packham says – and I agree with what he says.

Here is what BASC says – am I to assume that I am ‘and others’?

Well the Game Fair has been in touch with Chris and told him, basically, that he isn’t welcome but nobody has had the decency to get in touch with me. I just phoned Charlie Jacoby to check that I was persona non grata too, and it seems that I am (Charlie was obviously rather embarrassed about all this and I don’t blame him at all).

I was first contacted about appearing at the Game Fair nearly a month ago and now I learn that I am banned, from a statement from BASC that doesn’t even name me and an email from an embarrassed Charlie Jacoby which says I’ll be hearing from others about this – but I haven’t.

Tim Bonner (Countryside Alliance), Ian Bell (BASC) and Teresa Dent (GWCT and Natural England Board) are obviously running scared from any cogent criticism of any aspect of game shooting. They want to stifle and exclude even mildly critical voices. And they are bloody rude to boot, not even having contacted me.

So now the Game Fair attendees can look forward to a panel of three at 10:00 – 10:30, namely Andrew Gilruth (GWCT spin doctor), Ian Gregory (spin doctor) and Robin Page (small man).

The Game Fair, and the industry it seeks to represent, has sunk a bit lower today. Just now, it seems as though it does so today and every day.

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44 Replies to “Game shooting industry sinks deeper and deeper”

  1. That’s a shame Mark. I rather enjoyed our visit to a game fair & most folks were polite, I was only threatened the once. Of course I disagreed with just about everything but then I suspect wildlife killers would find the same at Bird Fair. Running scared comes to mind.

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  2. Hell, that is a character assassination of Chris on the fieldsportschannel!
    OK i believe he was probably genuine in his anger at you both being banned but boy does he make use of Chris being unable to defend himself against what are surely, to my ears at least, litigious statements.
    I didn't think i could get more shocked. I was wrong.

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    1. Yes - that was a real hatchet job - mendacious and unpleasant. And if you are aligning yourself with Maltese shooters then you really are allying yourself with some grotesque people.

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    2. Sorry was it not Chris P who refused to go on a bbc breakfast program if BASC were also on the program?

      However I do not agree in banning the three from the game fair we will only find commons ground by talking.

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  3. Mark, you are perhaps over-fair in your comments about Charlie Jacoby (I found that video of his deeply distasteful.) If he really believes what he says, mightn't you suggest he cancels the event? That's what a proper journalist would do, without even hesitating.

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    1. I kind of agree. In the earlier interview he simply came across as somebody who was opinionated, had preconceived his ideas and his traps and changed his direction when you didn't walk into them.
      Still he gave you a platform and you were able to show up his lack of substance. It would have been good to see this happen again.

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  4. Seems a bit extreme to ban people with different views from taking part in a debate. I wonder what the real reasons are?

    Do they fear that, if they gave you a platform that some shooters would start to view your opinions as rather reasonable and thus do they fear that you may draw support from their ranks, it is, I guess possible considering how there are some shooters expressing their dismay at the lack of action within the industry in tackling raptor persecution on social media.

    It seems that elements in the shooting industry like to portray you in a bad light, perhaps they fear that if your allowed to discuss issues in a reasoned debate would reveal this not to be the case?

    Most of all, I think that maybe, they need to start attacking the message, and not the man, but then, perhaps they are unable to attack the message because, maybe, they know deep down that the message is correct, or closer to being correct than their own message, and thus, they only have 2 options, admit they have been wrong, or attack the man.

    I use the word you to represent yourself (Mark), Chris and the other guy.

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  5. Is there any truth in the claim that GWCT asked to speak at one of your Hen Harrier day events and were told no ? I agree the cancelation of your invite has been handled badly as I would have liked to see you at least asked some awkward questions but I suspect the invitation to Chris was an error as he is so divisive .David

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    1. David - Chris was invited. You might think that was ill-judged but I would say it was refreshingly sensible. He wasn't invited by mistake but he was certainly uninvited deliberately, apparently on the orders of the Countryside Allaince, BASC and GWCT. They seem to fear an airing of views.

      I don't know to which of the many Hen Harrier Day events you think you are referring. I've actually obnly organised one such event - at Derwent Dam in 2014 and nobody asked or was invited to speak apart from Chris Packham!

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      1. Chris was obviously invited my point was it was a mistake given how divisive he is on so many issues . As to the " some other bloke " now uninvited like you I had no idea who he was so had to Google him . Now you are retweeting his output I take it you now know who he is and can only assume you agree with his rather interesting outlook on animal rights . Sorry about my misunderstanding about the Hen Harrier day as I assumed as you are front and centre you would be organising it but suspect you would have heard about an application by GWCT trust to speak had it happened . As to all the nonsense about violence towards Chris if he had attended I will file it under fiction .

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        1. David - you can file it where you like but if it is fiction then it is Game Fair fiction isn’t it.
          When you say that I am ‘now tweeting’ him I think you mean that today I RTd a single tweet of his about the T-shirt he had planned to wear at the Game Fair - don’t you?

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          1. That is exactly what I mean so you now know who he is not some bloke . Also I said you were retweeting his output not tweeting him which is how misunderstandings happen . Language is important .

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          2. David - I even RTd Andy Richardson yesterday because he said one interesting/vaguely sensible thing. Words are important but so also are whole phrases. You are insinuating something that isn't true.

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        2. For 'divisive' read authoritative and eloquent therefore makes us look like a bunch of right dummies which is why we are desperate to get him off the telly too.

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          1. I must have missed you retweeting Andy Richardson as I am sure I would have remembered such a ground breaking event . I am not sure what you think I am insinuating but I have asked you a few questions and you have had the good grace to reply . The whole story of the removal of the invitations to the three of you is a bit murky with both sides contradicting each other . Anyway there is nothing stopping the three of you attending as it is a public event you just will not get on stage to do an interview .

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  6. It is interesting that the BASC statement whines about Chris Packham 'using his celebrity status' in campaigning against shooting. I am not sure what they expect him to do - wear disguise and speak incognito perhaps - but it is equally clear that the shooting industry is more than happy to exploit celebrity status when it is deployed on their side of the argument by the likes of Ian Botham.

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    1. Talking of Ian Botham, I wonder if he will be fielded again this year. As far as I can tell he never left the pavilion last year having been so spectacularly hit out of the ground in 2017. It would be a pity if he's been relegated to the seniors, I wonder who might replace him.

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  7. I'm fascinated by the remarks on the video that "of course, security was a problem" and that there were extra security people as well as a car to take the three of you the short distance from the gate to the platform. I'm surprised no-one else has mentioned it. To me, it speaks volumes about that community that such concerns are raised and prepared for - just for a debate. Remember, these people use guns on a regular basis. Can you imagine anything of the like at BirdFair for a debate with memebers of the shooting industry? Of course not.

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    1. I've seen comments on twitter this morning with threats to do them over or similar in the beer tent if they turn up, so yes, there clearly ARE security issues. Charlies youtube piece also hints that this would be adeliberate setup from Chris (but maybe not mark) to get assaulted and therefore publicity.

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    2. Yes. Alan Davies' comment that he "was only threatened once" when he attended the GF, shows admirable sang froid but it is appalling that he was threatened at all.

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    3. See RPUK blog post
      https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/conservationists-packham-avery-risked-violence-from-shooters-at-game-fair-according-to-shooting-industry-reps/
      Wouldn't surprise me if they are proud of this violent streak.

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  8. I think that the real reason behind this lies in the potential visitors at the Game Fair. It is sold as a family day out, and I would argue a large number of the audience are families doing just that, who have no idea of the current debate, or the amount of persecution or anything else. They are just going to see some nice animals, have a burger, watch the ferret racing. CP is hugely popular, and would therefore attract a large audience, and with his ability to be straight and cut to the chase about the facts, the Game Fair might well find their 'target audience' leaving with a rather more accurate picture of shooting than they'd intended.

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  9. I too have been to Game Fairs, not many and have had some vigorous debates with some of the other attendees usually game keepers but hey isn't an airing of views good ! I've only been threatened once and the keeper I was talking to told he that did the threatening to F off.
    They are afraid, very afraid and on the run, they don't want the ordinary punter to hear you for fear of them no longer believing the shooting cabal bullshit. Keep up the pressure!

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  10. As a shooter/hunter I agree with Charlie Jacoby that this is a big mistake on our part. What we need is open debate and transparency, its the only way we can find middle ground. We just seem to have a habit of hiding away and hoping people wont attack us. Maybe Charlie or some other representative from the shooting/hunting community could be invited to an event such as a Hen Harrier Day or such like, so the debate can still go ahead?

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    1. That this cancellation is a huge mistake is the only thing I agree with Jacoby about. The rest is atrocious tosh, lies, gross and deliberate distortions of the truth. I await with interest a proper explanation from somebody sane ( there must be somebody!) in the shooting cabal of how it is extremism to expect proper regulation of the shooting industry and an expectation that they comply with both the law of the land, environmental regulations and best practice. If that is extremism then there are an awful lot of us proud to be extremists!

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  11. Look at it this way Mark. The deliberate false claims about you and Chris are utterly disingenuous and quite knowingly so. Given the propensity of the usual suspects for being blatantly insincere and disingenuous - then why should we believe them when they make these vague statements about disapproving of illegal raptor persecution - more like a legalistic disclaimer? Might they be being equally disingenuous when then claim to disapprove of illegal raptor persecution? Self-evidently they have no problem with being disingenuous when it suits their purpose. They have a completely lack of integrity, and never show any willingness to correct inaccurate or untruthful claims they make, unlike yourself and Chris who go to great lengths to correct anything you've said, which might inadvertently be misleading.

    I've heard both you and Chris actually defend shooting, and I have no idea why you've done this when the shooting industry treats you like the enemy.

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  12. It seems that the modern world has decided that this is th ebest approach to anythign they see as a dissenting voice, on any topic. Just shut them out, only invite those with the same ideology and ethics, no matter how misguided or legal, and everythign will be just fine.

    I have, as it happens, seen some comments on a twitter feed (I am not on twitter - these are public comments) implying that its a good thing that your 'dissenting voices' have been removed from Game fair but also a shame as they would have relished the opportunity to wipe the floor with you all in discussion and debate and possibly in the beer tent. Nasty stuff

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  13. I've seen several comments from the online shooting justice warriors asking why representatives from GWCT have not been allowed to speak at a Hen Harrier day event despite requests to. As far as I'm aware, unlike the Game Fair, that's because they weren't invited to.
    However, Amanda Anderson and Andrew Gilruth have attended several of the previous HH Day events. They freely mingled with the crowds without a security detail, heavies to protect them (I don't think Amanda's spaniel counts as a guard dog) or being shuttled around in an armoured car.
    In addition their attendance at the event was highlighted by Chris Packham and others from the stage and they were afforded a round of applause, if I recall correctly.
    It's disappointing the shooting fraternity have chosen to close down debate by no-platforming Chris and Mark in this way.

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  14. Not to worry.

    I'm sure Jacoby can answer any questions from the audience on behalf of all three of you.

    In fact he can probably do it better than any of you could.

    Because he knows everything. And he's always right.

    And he's not in the least bit envious of Chris Packham's successful broadcasting career and high public profile.

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  15. By constantly providing world wide publicity to Chris Packham and his opinions, I have no doubt time will show the shortsightedness of the shooting industry. By constantly attacking this UK wildlife icon both personally and publicly, Chris Packham's popularity will continue to grow increasing his popularity, while at the same time casting a dark cloud on those from the shooting Industry that criticise his legitimate views associated with wildlife crime throughout our country.

    By making personal threats against Chris Packham's life because of the values he speaks about show similarities with strategies used by the Nazis to undermine freedoms of speech in Germany in the Second World War.

    There is now no doubt public opinion is changing against game shooting, in particular against Driven Grouse Shooting, and it's dependence of criminal activities to prosper. Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself. This is just what the extremists in the shooting industry are hell bent on achieving.

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  16. If I didn't think I would have an "Exorcist moment" entering the portal of the Game Fair, and wasn't otherwise engaged in useful conservation activity this weekend, it would have been fun to go along and ask some awkward questions of the mendacious propagandists that will be on stage.

    Interesting to see that if you Google it, the only reference to shooting is to clay pigeon shooting.

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  17. All of a sudden Charlie Jacoby isn't just generally objectionable and a piss poor 'journalist' he's starting to sound like Robin Page on a bad day. That video was an incredible example of misreporting even by his standards, but it was his ranting that was most shocking. He sounded as if he actually believed it himself! Even without enough background information to know the specific points raised were grossly inaccurate what would a member of the public coming 'fresh' to all this think? Would they look at Jacoby and think this guy's lost the plot completely? I think many would and given the opportunity to explain why the Fred videos were shot on the same day (how many of us didn't know that from the very beginning?), or that of course a solar powered sat tag's not going to transmit continuously when the bird's dead, or that Chris was campaigning against all illegal and irresponsible shooting in Malta - then I m pretty sure the rest would follow. They are a desperate bunch that have to bolster each other's cloud cuckoo land justifications for what they think and do and how they vilify their opponents. The now cancelled appearance of Avery, Packham and Tiernan at the Game fair would have torn the current situation re field sports in his country to shreds and those who intervened to stop it knew that. Jacoby in his zealotry thinks this was a last ditch attempt to bring them and their viewpoints down, he's deceiving himself because he clearly believes the rubbish he spouts. After his interview with Mark he did another with Jay Tiernan a prominent animal rights, anti hunting campaigner and it was really interesting to see Jacoby's change of stance. Compared to the previous interview (more like an interrogation) Jacoby didn't talk over Jay or try to put words in his mouth - comparatively at least - he hadn't done himself any favours when he had with Mark and he must now know this. The result was that even someone who could probably meet most people's definition of 'extremist' sounded perfectly reasonable with many valid criticisms of what Jacoby stood for. At one point Jay pointed out the incredible food waste built into mass pheasant shooting. Jacoby riposted with a story about Wetherspoons supposedly screwing up a meat order and wasting thousands of steaks. The usual tactic of two wrongs make a right the stupidity of which Jacoby reinforced by claiming the public don't care about food waste...even if true they should and no true conservationist would accept that. The conservation organisations need to come forward and fill the void in public education that outfits like the 'Fieldsports' Channel are trying to take advantage of. The amount of food we waste makes a nonsense of the claim we can't have large scale ecological restoration, and it would mean far less flooding in the lowlands which is surely far better than subsidising marginal farming in the uplands which exacerbates it. Why is subsidising 'traditional' sheep farming with ye olde quad bikes more important than stopping Carlisle or Gloucester turning into a lake? Trying to keep a few tiny pockets of black grouse on the margins of grouse moors alive with intensive killing of predators is a pathetic position to be in, we need far more of the uplands to be good for much more than just red grouse. We need more predators back rather than to kill the ones we have comprehensively and incessantly. Why aren't those claiming corvids are killing off songbirds not campaigning for the end of persecution of that supreme crow killer the goshawk? Returning otters suppress mink numbers, when pine marten move back to their old haunts they munch on grey squirrels, when the RSPB stopped shooting foxes at Abernethy the decline in capercaillie stopped (are they putting a cap on marten numbers?). We have nearly two million deer in Britain, but not one single wild animal that can kill an adult one - so more harm to forestry, farming, conservation and not forgetting more road accidents and possibly Lyme disease bearing ticks. Arguments that we aren't a big enough country to have lynx are laughable and contemptible, we are too small to have two million deer. Charlie Jacoby certainly isn't going to make these points to the public, the RSPB and others need to in a proactive, committed fashion. Anybody who doesn't agree is perfectly free to say why, the problem is they already are before the conservation sector has spoken up and is now to a large extent sitting cowed in the corner being afraid to even utter the 'R' word. The Fieldsport Channel's a joke, that its mindset is having so much influence on public policy in 2019 should make us conservationists hang our heads in shame.

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    1. Mark - you may agree with some aspects of shooting but the same cannot be said abut your mate Chris Packham who is also a vegan.

      He is not impartial so I fully support his ban from the Game Fair because he is only interested in his views and he is divisive

      and I don’t hunt or shoot..

      This is also somebody who in the past had said that cats should be shot because of the amounts of songbirds that they kill

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      1. Mark and Chris Packham can speak for themselves but I doubt if either of them would claim to be 'impartial'. Quite the contrary, they hold strong views and are happy to defend those views even in the hostile environment of the 'other side's' big game fair shindig. I am equally certain that the organisers of this debate are not impartial either. Presumably the original invitation to Mark and Chris was issued BECAUSE they had well-known strong views and the event was intended to be an opportunity for the shooting side to challenge these.
        Again, Mark and Chris can both clarify their own positions on shooting, grouse-shooting, animal rights, veganism etc, but even assuming that you are right that Chris takes a harder line than Mark on shooting, why does that make it more appropriate to ban him than Mark from participating in the event? Why indeed is it appropriate to ban either of them?
        Of course, anyone can choose who they wish to invite to participate in their private event and if BASC, CA etc do not wish Chris and Mark to take part that is their right but refusal to hear a dissenting point of view from their own certainly looks like a lack of confidence in their position.

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      2. It takes one who supports those who kill thousands of animals, only to dump the carcasses in a hedge bottom, to whine that Chris Packham is a vegan.

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  18. Harking back a few days in the extraordinary unfolding chain of events, I was entertained by the story of Sir Nicholas Soames backing Martin Harper into a corner - maybe he didn't realise its what we'be all been hoping and praying for. RSPB's 'reasonable ' position is looking ever more frayed and it is worth repeating that nothing RSPB is doing conflicts with its charter position - whilst for others it may be about the rights and wrongs of shooting, for RSPB it is simple bird conservation: facing the first once common species to go extinct since the1980s (Wryneck, Red Backed Shrike) and, in contrast to both those, for glareingly obvious reasons.

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  19. This story, and the way that CP and MA are being treated on twitter, has convinced me to stop prevaricating and donate to the Wild Justice crowd-funder - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/50-million-non-native-gamebird/

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  20. My wife and myself went to the first two HH days. Both Anderson and Gilruth were there. As far as I'm aware they were not treated badly and were not insulted. Indeed Chris Packham said that his mother always told him to be gracious to people with opposing views. This he was, along with every one else present.
    The only reason that these invitations have been withdrawn can only be because the organisers are afraid that the people attending the event will hear rather more of the truth than they would like. As I said on Twitter this morning ' They don't like people who can shoot back'.

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  21. Co/ op / I am not whining that CP is a vegan and as I said i don’t hunt or shoot but I suspect that Chris Packham would like to see all bird shooting banned and yet he in the past has said that he would like to take his shotgun to the domestic cat for the amount of songbirds that they kill.

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  22. Whining is exactly what you were doing. You have the hypocrisy to imply that the man's diet should have a bearing on his views regarding an unsustainable, damaging activity, while crassly attempting to conceal your support for said activity (whether you participate personally is beside the point) which wastes huge amounts of food, and wastes large areas of our countryside growing crops to raise birds that are just thrown away. Furhermore, he has never once called for all bird shooting to be banned. Do try to stick to facts instead of childish guessing games. As for the cat story: is that all you can manage, an ill-chosen comment in the torygraph from almost twenty years ago? You lot really are desperate!

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  23. Mark,
    I have just read this
    https://wildjustice.org.uk/general/do-not-read-if-you-are-easily-offended/
    I am ashamed and disgusted by these comments please do not think they all shooters are like that.
    I apologise to the three of you for the comments.
    These people should remember the fundamental principle of firearms ownership is that you are a fit and proper person to be trusted with a firearm clearly these people may not be.

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  24. If I were an unbiased outsider, I'd be wondering why one side attempts to present their view of the facts, & the other side sound like football hooligans. As a regular reader of RPUK posts I know the answer

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