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New BBC impartiality rules must apply to Chris Packham, says Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance has called on the BBC to apply its new impartiality rules to environmental activist and presenter Chris Packham.

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New BBC impartiality rules must apply to Chris Packham, says Countryside Alliance

Tim Davie, the broadcaster’s new director general, this week warned of an impending crackdown on ‘political bias’ among employees.

 

In a speech on his third day in the job, Mr Davie said the BBC ‘urgently needs to champion and recommit to impartiality’.

 

“If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media, that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC,” he added.

 

His comments came after several high-profile journalists, including Emily Maitlis and Lewis Goodall, became embroiled in impartiality scandals.


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But presenter Chris Packham has also been the subject of a series of complaints for taking part in campaigns while presenting TV shows, making false claims about lapwings being shot and telling viewers of Autumnwatch glyphosate was ‘proven’ to be harmful to insects, on the day MEP’s were voting on its licence renewal.

 

He has since set up the group Wild Justice, which mounted a legal challenge against General Licences which allow farmers to shoot birds where they pose a threat to livestock or crops.

 

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “It is very positive that the BBC’s new director general is addressing the blatant impartiality exhibited by some of its presenters.

 

“This is something the Countryside Alliance has campaigned on since 2015 and is an issue many rural people feel strongly about.

 

Action

 

“Mr Davie’s comments are encouraging, but the time has come to put words into affirmative action.

 

“Clearly Chris Packham regularly uses the status given to him as a BBC presenter to promote a particular personal animal rights agenda, that is incredibly divisive.

 

“In 2016, in response to a complaint, the BBC told us Mr Packham was a freelancer and did not count as staff or a regular presenter or reporter, so was exempt.

 

“Unless the BBC is going to apply proper impartiality rules to all contributors, regardless of employment status, it might as well not bother.”

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