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Chris Packham's double standards

Talking to Times Radio this weekend, activist and BBC presenter Chris Packham offered up his views on public protests outside MPs’ homes. This comes after the Just Stop Oil campaign group told an undercover reporter that their aim was “to be occupying Labour MPs' offices, their houses, disrupting their speeches etc."


In December, JSO activists gathered outside the home of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and last week, around 60 anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the family home of former Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood MP, holding signs that accused him of being "complicit in genocide". In this case, police attended the scene and warned Mr Ellwood to stay away from his home. Mr Ellwood suggested that we might “see legislation on perhaps protecting homes as well [as statues].”


Mr Packham does not agree, however, that people should be stopped from protesting outside other peoples' homes. “What do you think are the rights and wrongs of going outside an MP’s home to protest about the environment?” he was asked. “I think that we need a portfolio of protests”, he responded, “because we need a radical flank, and Just Stop Oil are seen by many as that radical flank. They are the people who, in some people’s minds, go a step too far. And that might be standing outside an MP’s house.”

It's somewhat ironic that Mr Packham is happy to support protests outside people’s homes, because when the shoe is on the other foot, he doesn’t seem quite so happy about things.

It was recently reported that he now has a bodyguard while filming Winterwatch due to "specific threats", harassment outside his home and online abuse. He has also explained how: “perhaps rather sadly, it’s something that my partner Charlotte and my stepdaughter (Megan McCubbin, a zoologist who co-presents Springwatch with Packham) have become accustomed to now.”


It’s odd, then, that someone who understands the impact that protests outside peoples home and online abuse can have on a person and their family should encourage campaigners to do just that to someone else, and someone else’s family.


After the interview, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson criticised the BBC presenter for being “irresponsible” in encouraging Just Stop Oil to protest outside anyone’s home. “Any protests at the home addresses of MPs, councillors and other elected representatives will be considered intimidatory”, said Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson. When asked about Packham, the spokesperson responded: “It is clearly irresponsible to encourage people to protest at the home address[es] of MPs.”

Surely someone who has seen and felt the impact of harassment and personal protests against themselves and their stance on various matters would understand why politicians and other public figures might like to see the police cracking down on this behaviour.

Indeed, we understand that Mr Packham has gone to the police on numerous occasions, including when a community group staged a non-violent protest outside a talk he was giving in Harrogate. So why are these protests alright when we are talking about climate change, but not when Mr Packham is under the spotlight? That's a question for him, we think.


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