Brian May badger row: 'I was celebrating all UK wildlife'
Queen legend denies he was protesting against badger cull at Olympic closing ceremony
BRIAN MAY has denied a badger shoulder patch that he wore during his appearance at the Olympics closing ceremony was a protest against a forthcoming cull of the much-loved mammal in the West Country. The Queen guitarist insists his garb was a celebration of all Britain's wildlife.
May provoked expressions of support from animal lovers when he wore a long coat emblazoned with the heads of a badger and a fox while playing We will rock you with Jesse J on Sunday night. They assumed he was protesting against a controversial scientific trial due to start soon, which is aimed at controlling bovine tuberculosis by killing badgers.
Equally, there was disgust from farmers who support the cull.
The apparent protest came just a day after it was announced that a South Korean footballer was to be investigated for unfurling a flag making a political point at the Olympic football bronze medal match against Japan. Such gestures are banned at the Olympics.
But a spokeswoman denied that May was making a political point with his choice of concert garb, telling The Week that it was simply in keeping with the 'Isles of Wonder' theme of Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony.
"Brian's Jacket designed for the Olympics was in keeping with a core theme that ran through the opening ceremony," she said. "The UK is world renowned for its green countryside and the rich wildlife that inhabits it. It has inspired both books and songs internationally.
"Brian is well known for his passion for wildlife and it was a natural step to add these creatures to his jacket. He has become involved in the care and rehabilitation of wildlife of recent years and this has motivated him to found Save Me a group that gives a voice to wild animals."
She added that the jacket also featured other animals "close to Brian's heart", including a hedgehog, buzzard, two herons and an adder, "most of which are protected or in decline".
Closer inspection of a motif on the back of May's coat (above), partially obscured by his guitar strap, appears to bear this explanation out.
However, Countryside campaigners may feel May's explanation merely serves to pour fuel on the fire. Buzzards were recently the subject of a controversial plan to destroy nests to protect pheasant shoots. Furious opposition from the RSPB quickly put paid to the plan; perhaps they fear a similar fate awaits the West Country badger cull.