Environmental campaigner and naturalist Chris Packham has been paid “substantial” damages by the online shooting and hunting channel Fieldsports Channel after it falsely accused him of writing a fake death threat letter to himself.
In June 2022, Fieldsports Channel and one of its journalists, Ben O’Rourke, published an online video and article alleging that Mr Packham had written a fake death threat letter to himself and lied about it being sent by an anonymous third party. The allegation was not put to Mr Packham directly to offer him the right of reply.
Of particular concern to Mr Packham was the implication that he had lied to his family and Hampshire Police about the death threat. His distress was compounded by Fieldsports Channel’s response to his claim, in particular mounting caricatures of his head on a “trophy wall” at the British Shooting Show in February 2023. Mr Packham has been the victim of arson attacks and has received numerous death threats, and he considers Fieldsports Channel’s actions to have been utterly reckless and irresponsible in that context.
Mr Packham settled the defamation claim after Fieldsports Channel admitted that the death threat claims were untrue. According to Fieldsports Channel co-founder Charlie Jacoby, Mr Packham will receive £30,000 in damages, paid in three installments.
Mr Packham said: “Fieldsports TV displayed a complete contempt of even the basic codes of real journalism. They allowed a vicious vendetta to drive a targeted catalogue of lies in an attempt to destroy my credibility, integrity and reputation.”
Mr Jacoby claims, however, that Mr Packham actually sued the wrong company. Had he sued Fieldsports TV Limited, rather than Fieldsports Channel Limited, the damages awarded him may have been significantly higher.
“Chris hasn’t killed us,” said Mr Jacoby. “He has not ended Fieldsports Channel, which is marvellous. We will continue to shine a light where Chris does not want us to share a light.”