Maltese bird hunters complain to police over Chris Packham 'defamation'
BBC wildlife presenter questioned by police in Malta over his documentary on 'senseless slaughter' of birds
BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham was questioned for five hours by police in Malta yesterday over claims that he and his team had breached the privacy of local hunters and defamed them by filming them shooting migrating birds.
Packham, 51, has been on the island with the support of local charity Birdlife Malta to film a daily video diary documenting the spring shooting season. Under a controversial opt-out from the EU Birds Directive, 10,000 hunters are allowed to shoot two species of bird, the turtle dove and quail. But BirdLife International says that four million birds are killed every year, three million of them finches.
Interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week, Packham said that many bird species besides turtle doves and quail are shot, including rare species. He added that turtle doves were also rare, with numbers in the UK down 95 per cent.
"Yesterday I'm afraid to say I had a dead swift in my hand that had been illegally shot and also a dead little bittern," he said.
According to Malta Today, lawyers from the hunters' federation FKNK requested that the police investigate an alleged privacy breach and defamation by Packham.
Packham said that he had been threatened with arrest unless he gave a statement to police. “I did everything I could to be co-operative,” he said.
After the police interview, Packham tweeted: “What was the title of that Clash song? Well, I didn't exactly fight the law and the law didn't win either. I'm out.”
Packham’s agent said that the presenter had attended questioning voluntarily.
According to the Daily Mail, before going to the island, Packham said: “I don’t care if I get shot. If that’s the cost of getting the message across that birds we expect to see in our gardens are dead in some Maltese field because of this senseless slaughter, I’m willing to pay the price.”