© Sarah Farnsworth
Mark Avery is no stranger to social media attacks, often with the consequence of inciting a digital ‘pile-on’ to the recipient.
The late journalist and farmer, Robin Page, let it be known that Avery was known as a bully whilst at the RSPB and reportedly recommended campaign organiser, Tina Lindsay, be employed to encourage people to ‘intimidate him’.
What is even more unpleasant about his behaviour is the number of times his attacks have been aimed at women. In 2021 Avery launched a blistering attack on renowned curlew campaigner Mary Colwell after the release of her book, Beak, Tooth and Claw – Living with Predators.
The patronising review of Colwell’s book led to Scottish journalist Matt Cross writing in response to Avery’s comments and the pile-on that ensued:
“Shame on you. Shame on all of you. Shame on you for a series of viscous personal attacks on an honest and decent woman who has done a great deal for conservation, just because you don't feel she has backed your 'side' strongly enough. Shame on you for speculating wrongly about the content of a book you haven't even read. Shame on you for not having the moral courage to call out the bullies on your midst. Some of you really need to have a long hard think about yourselves”.
Avery’s latest attack has been launched against Minette Batters, the President of the NFU, in an online exchange in the last few days.
Despite Batters twice offering a meeting with Avery to visit Avon Valley farmers, he refused and continues encourage public criticism of the NFU and its commitment to the environment, failing to acknowledge the efforts of many farmers making big changes to the industry.
Joe Stanley, the author and farmer, responded by saying: “Oh, Mark. Starting 2024 as you mean to go on I see. Blinkered, divisive, combative. Those of us who have the ability to enact change on the ground will just crack on. Enjoy your keyboard.”
New President of the MA, Andrew Gilruth, also raised important questions for Avery, which he has so far failed to answer, writing: “Perhaps this Ex-RSPB conservation director… an organisation that has profited £ millions from the decline of farmland birds over last 40 years…might like to explain how the environmental-NGOs, that raised hundreds of millions to ‘protect’ them, are not also held to account?”
Gilruth then specifically asked Avery:
Can you tell me please:
1. Are you proud of your environmental record at the RSPB and why?
2. What were your plans to reverse biodiversity loss in UK farmland and why did they fail?
3. Do you accept bird numbers dropped on RSPB reserves and must now rise?
We continue to await those answers, Gilruth has now asked three times, though will not be holding our breath.