BASC has complained to the BBC after a guest on its Today programme accused gamekeepers of ‘annihilating’ anything that gets in the way of grouse shooting.

David Cobham, the author of a book endorsed by BBC presenter Chris Packham, also denied that a shortage of food adversely affects hen harrier populations.

The author was speaking during a five-minute slot on Radio Four’s Today programme, but the broadcaster failed to offer a balancing view.

BASC north director Duncan Thomas said:  “This is yet another sad example of the BBC failing its audience. The corporation’s blatant lack of impartiality when it comes to shooting is driving a stake through its credibility.

“This guest was allowed to scatter wild accusations and misinformation virtually unchallenged by the presenter.

“If the BBC was serious about informing the debate, rather than just allowing one of Chris Packham’s acquaintances to promote his new book, they should have ensured there was a guest to balance the argument.

“It should be utterly unacceptable to all TV licence fee payers, whether they are in favour of shooting or not, for the BBC to be so one-sided.

“There was no mention of the Hen Harrier Action Plan, no mention either that a Natural England report highlighted six factors for hen harrier nest failure, including predation, poor weather, infertility, wildfire, lack of food and illegal killing.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said:  “While BASC wholly condemns raptor persecution, we also advocate co-operation as the key to resolving conflicts, building confidence and ensuring the future of hen harriers.

“Mr Cobham’s determination to portray a ‘one-cause’ issue was clear promotion of an anti-shooting agenda, aided on this occasion by the BBC. Such antagonism is toxic to co-operation.”

BASC has today published a guide to shooting for journalists, which outlines the benefits of grouse shooting to the UK economy and conservation.

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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