1st Dec: Kevin Cox, RSPB Chair
Those who have had dealings with Kevin Cox say he was sensible and pragmatic once.
Indeed, one individual who was with him on a moorland visit not so long ago even said he was full of pleasantries and left deeply impressed by the vast number of red listed waders as well as birds of prey he saw that day.
Evidently his experiences would suggest he knows the reality of the benefits moorland management brings to wildlife and bio-diversity, yet since becoming chairman of the RSPB in the 2017, Cox seems to have joined the mindset of some of his more extremist colleagues there - or could there be more to it than that and he is trying to impress other conservationist he upset many years ago through his Philip Green-esque approach to business?
In his address to the RSPB AGM in October, Cox said: “We want these people [the shooting community] to be allies at the forefront of change and we are ready to work with them to bring it about.” Cox certainly has an unusual way of seeking collaboration with these communities given the ongoing campaigning against them, use of selective facts and unwillingness to recognise realities.
His actions have not gone unnoticed amongst some of his neighbours in Devon too with one long-standing and influential Devon resident saying, Cox and his wife, Donna, have ‘never been particularly well-liked’.
His actions and statements in recent years are unlikely to win he and his wife any new friends anytime soon where shooting remains a vital source of income for many.
What is clear however is that Cox has no financial concerns of his own for he is extremely wealthy, largely it would seem at the taxpayer’s expense.
In 1997 he founded his own publishing company, ‘Origin Publishing’ which was described by the Independent as a ‘low-cost, low-staff, no-frills publishing house’.
Just seven years later he sold the ‘poundshop publishing house' to BBC Worldwide for a staggering £10.2million. Whether this reflects value for money for the taxpayer remains questionable.
What is not questionable however is the sale caused uproar at the time from many high-profile conservationists who were appalled that longstanding and popular BBC Wildlife Editor, Rosamund Kidman Cox (no relation), would no longer be at the helm of the new magazine.
Tony Juniper, now the Head of Natural England, described the exit of the former editor and the purchase of Kevin Cox’s business as ‘tragic’ and ‘some short-sighted BBC business decision geared towards cost-cutting.’
Even Chris Packham said at the time of the sale ‘it will be impossible to ensure the magazine’s qualities are maintained. This is a further decline in the standard at the BBC’.
Given Kevin Cox seems to have upset Chris Packham early on in his career with his cut price, no frills publishing operation, perhaps the answer to Cox’s new stance is that he is trying to make amends to him by his now more extremist stance?
Given Cox made so much money out of the sale for Origin Publishing whilst Packham’s poor friend Rosamund Kidman Cox, the former editor, lost her job, it is unknown whether he has ever really been forgiven.
Cox remained a Director of Origin publishing house until 2011, but by that point he was already enjoying his immense wealth. In 2006, shortly after the sale of his company, Cox and his wife, Donna, bought the Grade II* listed, 17th century 10-bedroom Jacobean Manor House, Brook Manor, Dartmoor, for a figure thought to be close to £2.5million at the time and includes includes over 130 acres of woodland and meadows, where the public can wander. It could be worth five times that now.
[An description of the Cox's Brook Manor Estate on the Moorland Meadows website]
Interestingly, according to reports from a local building company who worked on the house, the house was originally built for Sir Richard Cabel in 1656 who was then a local squire and, by all accounts, ‘a man of ill repute’. It sounds very appropriate for our friend, Kevin.
According to Land Registry records, the property was bought for cash without the need for a mortgage. The records also suggest Cox enjoys the exclusive fishing rights and profits thereof on the River Mardle, which flows majestically through his garden.
[Documents from Land Registry show that multi-millionaire Cox bought his house for cash]
Should the jobs in the shooting industry start being shredded as a result of Cox’s actions let’s hope he might consider creating some replacement jobs amongst his Devon splendour.
Then again, given how poor Rosamund Kidman Cox was treated, that seems unlikely.