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

LAST UPDATED AT 10:32 ON Sun 27 Apr 2014

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.” · 

Disqus - noscript

Good for him! If that's what it takes to get it noticed in the media - so be it. Outrageous.

well done and keep up the good work i have respect for any one who helps animals x

He is right on the money with his report. I used to live on Malta and at migration time the 'hunters' would shoot at anything that moved.

This still goes on in Italy. "hunters" shoot every kind of bird life that they can find.

Well done Chris!!!!

Totally agree. Stationed there for three years even saw someone shoot some kind of insect crawling up a tree with a shotgun, can't say what damage it did to the tree.

How can I register my disgust with the Maltese Government?

Cheers Mr. Packham. If you voluntarily police the UK as much as you are policing Malta, you might get the Elizabeth cross for bravery one day. If you have any concrete evidence that Maltese citizens are acting illegally present your evidence to the relevant authorities first before cockily showing off and broadcasting your concerns in the public domain, throwing dirt on this island, including its authorities. Or is this British mentality? The fight against hunting has been going on for ages, despite it being a strong tradition in Malta - all credit given to the authorities who managed to regulate it against all odds and constant opposition from Maltese environmentalists.

Cheers Mr. Packham. If you voluntarily police the UK as much as you are policing Malta, you might get the Elizabeth cross for bravery one day. If you have any concrete evidence that Maltese citizens are acting illegally present your evidence to the relevant authorities first before cockily showing off and broadcasting your concerns in the public domain - throwing dirt on this island, including its authorities. Or is this British mentality?! The fight against hunting has been going on for ages, despite it being a strong tradition in Malta - all credit given to the authorities and Maltese environmentalists who managed to regulate it against all odds.

1-Only the minority groups go bird hunting in Malta. The majority of the population is against it.

2-In some other Mediterranean countries bird hunting is worse than Malta. The fact that a British cannot understand the language of the other countries, unlike Malta which is an English speaking country, does not mean that bird hunting does not occur in the other countries.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.