The newly appointed Labour shadow minister for nature recovery is a committed anti-shooting campaigner who has been backed by animal rights activists and a convicted criminal.

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, was appointed as Shadow Minister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment in a recent reshuffle.

Sobel briefly shot to national prominence in March last year, when he was Shadow Tourism Minister. His notoriety was caused by his description of business as “the enemy” during an interview. When he was appointed to the nature recovery brief, Shooting Times was tipped off to Sobel’s anti-shooting background and began looking into his campaigning activities. His anti-shooting activities appear to have begun in 2017 when he backed the campaign to stop grouse shooting on Ilkley moor by writing to Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe.

The campaign was successful, and just two years after keepers left the moor it was hit by a devastating fire. His intervention was praised by Chris Packham and by a leading animal rights activist and convicted criminal who called him “a progressive voice” and welcomed him “onboard”. In 2018, Sobel wrote a blog in which he said: “I fully support a national ban on grouse shooting.”

The blog met with furious reaction from his constituents, many of whom live and work in the grouse shooting country of the Yorkshire Dales. Angrily hitting back at Sobel, one constituent said: “There are far more important issues regarding the North West Leeds area than maybe a bit of grouse shooting in the Wharfedale area.”

Since then his anti-shooting activism has broadened. In 2020, Sobel was photographed at an event organised by the campaign to ban trophy hunting holding a placard which read: “I support a trophy hunting ban.” The idea of a trophy hunting ban has been condemned by many leading conservationists and by African communities. Following the event Sobel tweeted his support for an end to all shooting saying: “I’m opposed to all forms of hunting and shooting of animals”.