Springwatch host Chris Packham cleared by BBC Trust over hunting remarks

Springwatch host Chris Packham has been cleared by the BBC Trust after he said those involved in hunting were part of “the nasty brigade”.

The investigation was triggered after the broadcaster and naturalist made the remarks in a September 2015 article in the BBC Wildlife magazine, calling for a ban on grouse shooting. It prompted two complaints.

The two complainants alleged that Packham breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality as well as their rules on conflicts of interest.

The Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee found Packham had not breached a rule preventing BBC staff commenting on matters of “controversial subjects” because he is not deemed as working in “news or policy output”.

The report also found there had been no breach of impartiality rules because the article was labelled as opinion and a right to reply had been offered to those named in the column.

It added that the magazine had published two letters from the complainants in the magazine’s subsequent edition.

The report added that Packham is a freelance presenter and not a BBC employee, meaning he’s “open to associate himself with wildlife charities without being in breach of the guidelines”.

The Trust recommended the BBC and Packham “assess regularly and formally” his campaigning work to ensure it does not undermine the “impartiality and independence” of his work.

He has also been warned not to use the phrase in the future.

Packham’s comments were seized upon by supporters of grouse shooting and a complaint was lodged by the Countryside Alliance, which lobbies to promote the interests of rural people and communities.

In a letter to the Trust, the Alliance’s chairman Simon Hart MP, accused the wildlife presenter of using “the status the BBC has given him to spread propaganda”.

Packham was branded an extremist by Sir Ian Botham last month in the wake of a petition to Parliament calling for a ban on shooting reaching 100,000 signatures

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