Botham spinning more balls, again

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any more cock and bull stories from Sir Ian Botham. He’s been pretty quiet since he was caught out mis-using the good name of the BTO last August, but on Saturday he was back attacking the RSPB in an article in the Telegraph.

The article (here), written by ‘Online Education Editor’?! Harry Yorke, headlined with ‘RSPB embarrassed after rare bird it suggested had been illegally dispatched is found alive and well‘.

The article refers to satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Highlander’, whose signal had stopped abruptly last summer but who had probably been observed in the field last month with a presumably faulty sat tag (see here).

The Telegraph’s headline is inaccurate on two counts. The RSPB isn’t ’embarrassed’ and nor had it suggested Highlander had been ‘illegally dispatched’. On the contrary, at the time Highlander’s tag stopped working the RSPB blog announcing the news was supremely cautious (see here) and at no point was it suggested that Highlander had been ‘illegally dispatched’.

Of course, many of us assumed she had been bumped off, and that was an entirely reasonable conclusion to draw given the growing list of hen harriers known to have been illegally shot in recent years (Rowan, Carroll, Lad, Annie, Betty, Heather, Muirkirk female, Fettercairn male, Geallaig Hill male) but the RSPB did not say that Highlander had been illegally dispatched, just that she had disappeared.

And that’s why the RSPB isn’t ’embarrassed’ by Highlander’s apparent reappearance. What has the RSPB got to be embarrassed about? Absolutely nothing – the RSPB has been open and honest about this failed tag, in sharp contrast to how other organisations have handled the recent news that another sat-tagged hen harrier, Rowan, had been shot.

The Telegraph article includes some quotes from Botham where he slags off the RSPB – it’s not clear if he was speaking as the mouthpiece of the grouse-shooting industry’s propaganda campaign You Forgot the Birds but his diatribe has all the familiar hallmarks of the Nasty Brigade.

As ever though, it’s what the article didn’t include that is the most telling. This piece was published the day after the RSPB’s 2015 Birdcrime report was published, detailing the continued illegal persecution of raptors across the UK, largely at the hands of gamekeepers. You could argue that this attack on the RSPB was the Telegraph’s / grouse-shooting industry’s direct response to that report.

Thanks to one of our blog readers (‘Mr Carbo’) for sending in this interpretation of what’s happening to satellite-tagged hen harriers.


12 Responses to “Botham spinning more balls, again”

  1. 1 Ivan Sansom
    February 6, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Highlander is/was a female?? Before the CA/BASC start screaming at the good work you do…

    Sent from my iPhone

    [Ed: Thanks, Ivan – amended]

  2. February 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    It is always very telling how these apologists for the grouse industry pick at those tiny morsels which they think are a chink in the armour of those fighting to protect raptors.
    Funny how they never compare the tiny crumbs of possible evidence in their own favour with the overwhelming mountain of evidence against the grouse moor – owning & managing criminals.
    The wider public no longer tugs forelocks & finds the evidence of raptor crime utterly convincing so the whingeing Of Mr B. & others is very amusing.

    Keep up the pressure

  3. February 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    In fact his entry into the argument over the years, pitting himself against the esteemed raptor conservation movement is just another example of the arrogance which pervades the driven game shooting industry !
    The great British public are not fools & know who to trust.
    Since when did the game shooting industry ever produce individuals who tirelessly [ often as amateurs ] worked for raptor conservation ?
    I’ve been working in the raptor protection ranks [ largely unpaid ] for over 45 years & have never met a driven game shooter / keeper / moor owner who has ever achieved anything in raptor protection…… funny that !
    Yes, they’ll trot out the usual stuff about upland wader populations etc. but the results of their heather monoculture are all too easy to evaluate – it is not the biodiverse landscape that should be thriving there.
    Unfortunately this fight has many , many years to run particularly given the political climate which favours the driven game brigade.
    Truth has a tendency to win in the end though !

    Keep up the pressure !

  4. February 6, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Harry Yorke must be a person who is very much influenced by the Nasty Brigade.
    How much are these guys, Yorke and Botham, being paid to out their anti-raptor messages?
    People who spin such rubbish make me sick.

  5. 5 Dylanben
    February 6, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    He’s been quiet because he’s been in India. Best ignored. Responding only encourages them. ‘Nuff said.

  6. February 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    It’s distinctly odd that this piece was written by the Telegraph’s “Education Editor” – I’d bet a penny to a pound that he has some an undeclared link with shooting interests. Yorke’s not too common a name and a quick “Google” turned up two people with his surname who have an interest in grouse shooting. A register of journalists’ interests along the same lines as the one for MPs is well overdue. As many will recall George Monbiot wrote written an interesting article on this topic a few years back in connection with Magnus Linklater’s article in the Observer attacking the RSPB (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2012/aug/16/journalism-accountable-declare-interests).

  7. 8 Paul V Irving
    February 6, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    When Botham first started to come forth with this sort of drivel a colleague birder said he had responded to a Botham tweet thus ” I used to admire you as a cricketer, now I just think you are a twat” enough said.

  8. February 6, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    What a cracking cartoon, hope Mr Carbo disseminates it widely. Says it all.

  9. 10 Doug Malpus
    February 7, 2017 at 12:15 am

    I know what I would like to to his Cock and B*lls fantasy stories!!!!!
    Sorry, I’m not usually prone to such outbursts!


  10. 12 C B
    February 7, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Why on earth do those who publicise his frothing think we should take notice of a man who played games for a living? He has no credentials except his fading celebrity status.

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