Magnus Linklater and his fake facts: caught out, again

So, last night we posted a blog about a Times front-page article and a Times leader article that quite clearly was an attack on the good name of the RSPB.

The author of the front-page article was Magnus Linklater, a ‘journalist’ with a reported association with grouse shooting and a track record of producing fake facts and writing anti-RSPB rhetoric. In his article, Linklater claimed that the RSPB was fighting a proposed offshore windfarm development “despite a detailed environmental survey commissioned from the British Trust for Ornithologywhich estimated that the turbines would harm no more than 100 gannets a year”.

This claim looked decidedly dodgy as the official number of predicted gannet casualties, as published in Scottish Ministers’ own formal assessment of the windfarm’s impact, was actually 1169 gannets a year.

So we decided to ask the BTO if they had actually undertaken a “commissioned, detailed environmental survey” in relation to this windfarm proposal.

Guess what? The BTO confirmed this morning that er, no, they hadn’t!

So, we were right then. This was a grouse shooting apologist making up stuff to attack the RSPB.

This isn’t the first time the scientific credibility of the BTO has been misrepresented by someone in the grouse shooting industry to smear the reputation of the RSPB, and you can bet it won’t be the last.

19 Responses to “Magnus Linklater and his fake facts: caught out, again”

  1. 1 Simon Tucker
    August 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

    It is also an attempt to tarnish the impartiality of the BTO. As I previously commented, Louise Mensch tried to smear the BTO because Chris Packham is currently president of the governing council. Botham lied on national radio and now Linklater has done this. Clearly the idea is to keep associating the BTO with these tarnished and misleading reports so that, when there is a BTO report the psychos don’t like, they will use their misrepresentations to report that this reflects that the BTO is an unreliable source.

    As one of their 50,000 volunteer surveyors, I object strongly to the underhand and nefarious attempts to destroy the credibility of a great, impartial, organisation (even if I am not, myself, impartial).

  2. 2 Jean
    August 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Fake facts = lies. Call a spade a spade. Is this a sign that the shooters are getting desperate?

  3. 3 Gerard
    August 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Arguments generally rely on assumptions or in many cases “facts.” This is standard neo-liberal think-tank type political strategy. Undermine your opponents by smearing the source of the facts they rely on for their arguments, whilst cherry-picking facts (and if there aren’t any make them up) that support your own.

    Personally, I think that in one of these think tanks, one day, they came to a consensus that they despised post-modernist philosophy almost as much as they despise the left wing of politics trying to limit their (the think tank members) power. Since they dislike both sets it takes little intellectual contortion to put both (postmodernist and left wing) into the same set.

    “Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could use postmodernist ideas to beat the left with? That has a nice ring to it. Like left wing liberalism imploding upon itself.”

    “Yeah it’s logically inconsistent, since the same people who say that anything goes are also saying you can’t do that.”

    “Yeah we can just make up facts and assumptions for our arguments, because the post modernists say it’s OK to do this.”


    And we have the right wing politics of the last 10 years and most definitely the last 5.

  4. 4 Gordon Milward
    August 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    So it’ll be corrected on page 28, lower left corner, in a yet-to-be-identified future edition. Damage already done, sadly.

  5. 5 J .Coogan
    August 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm


  6. 6 Paul V Irving
    August 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    its one thing for a journalist to lie in an opinion piece, but quite another to do it in a front page article although not unprecedented. xxxx xxxxx xxxxx x xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx Should one of us complain to the press assoc etc?

    [Ed: Thanks, Paul. One sentence removed as we don’t have time to check this claim for accuracy and it could be libellous. By all means, lodge a complaint about Linklater’s article with IPSO: https://www.ipso.co.uk/ ]

  7. 7 Greer Hart, senior
    August 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    As one of the concerned-for wildlife-many, what worries me about this present issue, and others to come, is, who do our politicians believe when making up their minds? Friends of the Earth, it seems, is for the wind farm project to go ahead, as they see it as being beneficial in their campaign over climate change. That reasoning would accept so many birds being lost, but not enough to have a serious effect on species survival. The same argument prevails with pharmaceutical companies that test their drugs on animals, and who accept a certain degree of human mortality, due to side-effects. I suppose those planning military campaigns have to weigh up the casualty rate expected, the overall good for the world, on their success in achieving a victory over an evil regime. It is to be expected that when it comes to job creation and in cutting carbon emissions, we have to expect politicians to ignore the loss of wildlife and damage to the environment, as part of the need for human survival coming first.

    However, when it comes to specious information being adduced to justify this wind farm, that is not acceptable, especially when it has come to a reputable organisation, the BTO in this case, being used to justify the action. If the boot were on the other foot, and those wishing to save bird life, were to abuse the scientific reputation of some prestigious body, then a whole swarm of lawyers would descend on them.

    My admiration goes out to the RSPB and its dedicated workers in fighting the corner for bird life survival. Indeed, without the presence of the Packhams and Averys, men of rectitude and courage who stand their ground, many such as I, would find life unbearable, due to having to live in a society that would allow cruelty to animals without a contest to remove such a perversion. To live in parts of Asia where dogs and cats are boiled or skinned alive for food preparation, and little chance of contesting it, would be enough for some people to go insane or commit suicide. European society was once horrendous for its people and animals, but humane people emerged and forced an end to such cruelty, as seen with the Slave Trade, bear and bull baiting, vivisection, sending wee lads up chimneys and children working down mines, dog fighting, the trade in bird feathers for hats, the trafficking of young girls, both into and out of the ports, big game shooting, dreadful factory conditions, the genocides of native peoples, the unbearable ill-treatment of animals in slaughterhouses, and many more unjustifiable horrors for sentient life to experience. Some of that barbarity lives on, and is actually still justified as job creation, sport or necessary for human survival. Thank God that there are decent and dedicated people, who have used their intellectual and financial resources to contend such misleading and hollow excuses for perpetuating cruelty to other forms of life. May I recommend a book – ETERNAL TREBLINKA – inspired by those who rode in the cattle trucks to the concentration camps, and whom after the Hell they had to experience was over, saw the similarity of their long suffering with that of animals. There are those today, who try to trivialise the efforts of humane people, by faking evidence and making out dubious economic reasons for their self-interest activities. Only those superficial and indifferent, would use such arguments to defend some case of dodgy merit.

    • 8 Lou
      August 18, 2017 at 1:38 am

      Love this comment and agree with every word. Compassion is the way forward and genuine animal lovers will never stop pushing to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. You truly can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

  8. 9 Les Wallace
    August 17, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks RPUK for confirming what I pretty much suspected when I saw this yesterday – another smear aimed at the RSPB by the DGS fraternity – genuine news being sidelined for pish, NOT responsible journalism.

  9. 10 Jimmy
    August 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    It appears all the grouse lobby can do is role out BS merchants to fight their cause

  10. August 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Remember the times is the right wing flag

  11. 12 Iain Gibson
    August 18, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Having carried out regular monitoring of pro-grouse shooting blogs, mainly on Facebook, it becomes all too clear that there is a constant torrent of lies which often associates organisations like BTO this way. Just about every grouse shooter, gamekeeper and hunting supporter can come up with an amazing consortium of “uncomfortable facts” which they claim the “antis” (which includes us) deliberately suppress. Information which we consider to be highly suspect at best, is promoted ad nauseum by a collective of individuals whose harsh attitude towards conservationists and RSPB represents utter contempt. In general our side might hold strong emotional views on the morality and ethics of how these people seek their pleasure, but apart from the odd exception we do our best to remain calm and rational in any discussion, and rely on scientific research and accurate observation for evidence. We do not, like we are frequently accused of, talk in riddles, lies or make things up as we go along. Their attempts at suggesting we do is simply a psychological trick to cover their own tracks. It doesn’t work, but we have to admit they do a reasonable job of reinforcing their own stereotypes.

  12. 15 Dylanben
    August 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    We can but hope that any rational person reading their unsavoury drivel will realise that this is just what it is and what it says about the authors.

  13. 16 Dave Dick
    August 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Just make sure the government decision makers know what the truth is – and they will, as Im sure many of them read this blog….always remember we are up against criminals and their apologists, you should never be surprised that they use lies and exaggeration to try to cover up their crimes and promote their twisted agenda.

  14. 17 Andrea Goddard
    August 23, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    This is now on the UHI facebook page…Kristin and Magnus Linklater will receive Honorary Fellowships in September. Meet them in conversation with award-winning journalist John Ross Scott on 28 September in the Orkney Theatre. Event details : http://goo.gl/gfzJK4

    I shan’t be going to that event then!

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