A normal couple of days for my friend, Chris?

Yesterday my mate Chris Packham was handing in a petition to Buckingham Palace asking the Royal Family to rewild their extensive land holdings as a tangible and visible token of their support for UK nature conservation. It’s the type of thing Chris does – he’s a campaigner, he’s an advocate and he puts himself about for a wide variety of causes that he supports. In my view, expressed to him, he tries to do too much, but he does things so well, and he finds it difficult to say no when someone asks for his help. No wonder he seems a bit run ragged at times – he needs to get more sleep.

On Thursday/Friday night Chris didn’t get as much sleep as he deserved because someone set fire to a car outside his house in the New Forest – he was woken by the petrol tank exploding after midnight.

Can you imagine that happening to you and your property – apparently because you campaign for a better future for wildlife? I visited Chris the week before last, we had a Wild Justice board meeting (slightly pretentious description of a chat between Chris, Ruth and me), and if the events of this week had happened last week I would have been able to see the flames from my bed. I drove through the security gates, that are now blackened and charred, after Chris had checked on the CCTV …

… that it was me pushing the buzzer at the gates.

This is scary stuff. It’s very much akin to the violent intimidation to which wildlife campaigners in southern Europe are subjected by hunters. Chris asks where it will end. I am concerned for the safety of my friend, and those around him, and those associated with him. The nastiness spreads very widely.

But as you can see and hear in the video above, Chris isn’t going to change. He isn’t going to step down, he will continue to step up.

And he was stepping up yesterday, as if nothing had happened. He was on the campaign trail again, as always, giving his time and profile freely to the causes he supports.

I hope the 100+ children whom Chris accompanied yesterday get to hear that Chris’s support for wildlife causes comes with a real cost to him – financial and emotional. This isn’t a game when cars are set alight outside your house. The man they saw smiling and chatting yesterday was the subject of a violent attack the day before.

I wonder where it will end. Chris is a leader, and he’s taking the flak for a lot of causes that the public supports. There is no-one quite like him out there. Cherish him, and please, show Chris whatever support you can.


22 Replies to “A normal couple of days for my friend, Chris?”

  1. Yet more evidence of the criminality lurking in the blood sports fraternity. Presumably this latest outrage is connected to the hunting issue on National Trust land. Let’s hope all NT members take note.

    1. Sandra – not very strong evidence for that in particular since we don’t know who was responsible…

  2. The great irony here is that this thuggish behaviour is helping to hasten the demise of the activities it seeks to defend. I’d love to think, for example, that this will help get the National Trust vote on fox hunting over the line. Those involved are not bright enough to see this of course. It’s also a vivid reminder that if you can get away with committing what some might say are lesser crimes, week after week, untroubled by the judicial system, then this is an easy next step to take. None of this will be much comfort to those in the firing line facing up to these tactics.

  3. Chris Packham’s commitment to a wide variety of causes is self-evident (Dr Avery’s comment is well made) but if I were to read his demand that the Royal Family re-wild it’s estates I would ask one very pertinent question. What percentage? All, half, quarter, that not farmed, grouse moors, parkland, etc. Passion is one thing but defining a cause is equally important. For all those children’s parents to further support this and influence a future generation, perhaps a little more meat should be added to the bones of the request. The website states a lot about what is current but speaks in rather general terms about what is actually practical, desired and economically achievable in the future.
    I would add that what happened outside Mr Packham’s house is repellant.

    1. Austringer – I’ve seen the very polite ask for the Royals to do something on their own land being described as impudent, but your criticism is that, in a way, it is not quite impudent enough and should have been more specific. remember too, that this was a campaign by a group called Wild Card, not initiated by Chris himself. He is a supporter of it, as indeed am I.

  4. Interesting that this should follow yesterday’s discussion about Insulate Britain and the role of non-violent direct action in bringing about change. There can be debate about whether or not Insulate Britain’s motorway protests are an effective tactic or not but what is not in question is that (a) the IB protestors are acting openly, without hiding their identities and are prepared to accept the consequences of their action and (b) are not being violent towards anyone. This stands in complete contrast to the cowardly, anonymous attack on Chris Packham’s property (the latest in a succession of attacks) and its implicit threat of violence on him personally. No-one should have to face such violence and I await with interest the response of the shooting and hunting organisations to this latest attack. What is required is not some mealy mouthed distancing from the act but an unequivocal condemnation of it and concrete action to rein in the ugly sentiments expressed on their social media against Chris that fuel the physical attacks.

    Whether or not they do so, they should understand that attacks like this will ultimately be far more likely to persuade people to Chris’ cause rather than to theirs.

  5. “Can you imagine that happening to you and your property”

    I openly campaigned for LGBT rights in the eighties, and for the removal of nukes from Faslane too, so I don’t have to imagine it. Stopping the memories intruding on everyday life is one of the reasons I’m on medication.

  6. That someone believes they have the right to resort to terrorism is an indication that they believe their cause is above the law?

    That the hunting and shooting advocates and supporters are quiet may be because they m ay recognise that such action is likely to gain more support for Chris and by silence they may hope it will disappear. Doubtless it’ll be “not us, no evidence etc. etc.” or if their hierarchy do comment, it’s almost predictable “we do not condone blah blah blah” would realists and observers of the contentious conservation campaigns believe them?

    Stay strong and safe Chris, and thank you for all that you do.

  7. I cannot vote at this year’s NT AGM as I resigned my membership in 2017 following a similar motion placed before the Trustees. My recollection is that there was probably a vote to ban Trail Hunting in the public vote but the Trust used a proxy vote mechanism to overturn the will of those who voted for a ban. Mark may recall the details better than I do.

  8. See Mark’s log of 27th Oct 2017. Of over 60,000 votes the motion was lost by less than 300.

  9. If identified, the perpetrators run the very real risk of expulsion, from any relevant organisations of which they may be members.
    They have clearly not thought this through.

  10. Mr. Packham may like to consider (when he refurbishes) a CCTV system with better definition. There are systems which have PIR activated LED lighting, giving higher definition colour footage, with motion detection, tracking and zooming. There’s some interesting stuff in the world of CCTV. You can even live-stream your CCTV stuff on the web.

  11. This is a very significant up turn in violence, and what went before was hardly trivial. As it was a petrol tank blew up, if the perpetrators had been able to would they have put explosives in the car as well? If there hadn’t been a gate there would they have reversed the car right to his front door and set light to it there? I’ve got my fingers crossed that one of the gobshites gets pissed, runs their mouth off about their ‘little adventure’ and then someone shops them. If they’ve got any pals that know what they’ve done they better not EVER fall out with them, I’d certainly be surprised if the two caught on CCTV were the only ones involved in making it happen. There’s no way anyone getting convicted for this won’t see the inside of a prison. Would a crowdfunder to raise a reward for information leading to a conviction be a worthwhile idea?

  12. One cannot but admire Chris Packham’s great courage and determination in the face of the constant abuse and criminal damage he receives. All this shows again and again the type of people, complete thugs, that associate themselves with those that kill our wildlife for fun. It is these types of incident that make one realise with what conservationists are having to deal and face up to. They are brave people acting in the face of lawlessness, criminality, and thuggery.
    It is shame on Governments that they do not give better and meaningful support to these courageous conservationists both at here at home and over seas.

  13. A horrible pointless act of intimidation and arson by some obviously nasty but dim people. One hopes they are caught, the Vin plate on the vehicle may still be readable. Chris, who I have met but would hardly say I know, is a true conservation hero taking on much and getting an appalling amount of flak for it from those who oppose his and our views. I want these people caught and severely punished for their domestic terrorism.
    I would also like to see those in the various “countryside organisations”- and that’s a huge misnomer, who have regularly vilified Chris and tacitly led a hate campaign against him, want him silenced and off our screens, condemn this outrageous attack. I’ll as usual not be holding my breath as these folk seem to think anything and everything is justified in support of their views of the world. If they don’t condemn it they are by their usual silence accessories after the fact in this vile act.
    Chris be strong but most of all be safe, we are all with you in spirit.

  14. Nature protection campaigners in other parts of the world are murdered. Let’s remember that. Can we help get protection and justice for such people?

  15. Perhaps “The Disliker” could show a hint of backbone for once and explain his/her support for the worthless vermin behind this attack?

    Don’t hold your breath, folks…

  16. Of course it really is speculation as to who the culprits were but I can’t help feeling that anyone who enjoys killing animals for “a bit of fun” as Ruth puts it, is essentially psychotic.
    I seem to recall a piece of research profiling murderers who had enjoyed torturing and killing their victims and every one of them had progressed from torturing and killing animals. The link was so strong that when police came across children who killed animals they (the children) were registered as deserving attention as potential perpetrators of violence in the future. I would not be at all surprised if these idiots were animal killers aka huntsmen.

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