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Countryside Alliance blasts BBC over “smear”

shooters to pay for Chris Packham

The Countryside Alliance has lodged a formal complaint about the BBC and accused the broadcaster of failing to adhere to its own guidelines following an episode of Inside Out London last month that explored pheasant and partridge rearing.

Both the CA and BASC previously accused the BBC of “aligning itself with anti-shooting extremists” after using League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) footage in the episode (News, 16 November), but now the CA has taken the matter further.

The CA says that BBC reporters trespassed on four different gamebird farms in the process of making the programme, and it also raised concerns about the relationship between the reporters and “two politically extreme animal rights organisations”— LACS and Animal Aid.

The CA notes that “LACS has been sanctioned by the Charities Commission on multiple occasions for political campaigning and Animal Aid is currently running campaigns against all meat consumption.” It further argues that footage obtained by the BBC fails to substantiate allegations of bad practice and that “as a result there was no public interest justifying the decision to transmit the ‘evidence’ obtained as a result of trespassing.”

In the letter of complaint, CA chief executive Tim Bonner stated: “The decision to trespass on someone else’s land and to enter their property is a serious decision to take and one that should not be taken lightly. There needs to be an extremely strong public interest case. The fact that the BBC appears to have made no attempt to follow its own editorial guidelines is extremely worrying.”

He added: “The BBC has acted in an extremely evasive and disingenuous way and has again failed to provide balanced and impartial coverage of an important rural issue.

“Far from being an attempt to present a balanced and truthful view of the welfare of birds at game farms, this episode was driven by a desire to smear all those involved in shooting.”