Police called as grouse shooting supporters threaten disruption at Packham gig in Harrogate

A small gaggle of anti-Chris Packham pro-grouse shooting protesters turned up in Harrogate last night to demonstrate outside the theatre where Chris Packham was presenting a show to help raise awareness of wildlife in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

[Photo by Gary Lawson]

Much to the bemusement (and amusement) of theatre-goers, the protesters held banners aloft claiming ‘Packham’s lies are destroying moorland communities‘ and ‘Pack it in Packham you are destroying our jobs‘.

Er, no, that’ll be the unidentified criminals in Nidderdale, who not only are poisoning and shooting red kites, hen harriers, buzzards, marsh harriers on Nidderdale grouse moors (as reported by the AONB partnership just last month), but who have also managed to turn the local community against them, all by themselves. Unsurprising really, when according to the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB these crimes are “starting to have a damaging effect on tourism businesses”. 

Here’s a map we produced a while ago showing the boundary of the Nidderdale AONB (yellow line), illegally killed red kites (red dots), missing satellite-tagged hen harriers (orange stars), shot hen harrier Bowland Betty (red star), shot hen harrier River (red triangle, which we now know should be closer to the red star on the Swinton Estate).

According to one of the organisers of Chris’s event at the theatre yesterday, she told us that her social media accounts promoting the event had been “inundated with a relentless list of abusive responses” from those within the game-shooting industry and how shocked she’d been at the “depth of hatred and nastiness” from the pro-shooting trolls. They’ve got a lot to learn about winning friends and influencing people!

It’s not known if any of those abusive trolls were present at the protest last night but she told us that when she went outside to speak to the protesters about their “aggressive chanting” and to ask them to be respectful of theatre-goers she was told that they intended to come inside and disrupt the event to make sure they were heard. The police were called to ensure the protesters didn’t turn violent.

It’s believed a few of them did have tickets to enter the theatre but no trouble was reported. Not even when Chris started talking about Nidderdale’s reputation as being one of the worst raptor-killing hotspots in the entire country; not a claim he’d made up at all but a factual statement that has been robustly evidenced, including by the AONB Partnership’s very own report.

So who were last night’s protesters?

Well, it turns out they’re quite an interesting bunch. According to this website it’s a newly formed group called ‘Campaign 4 Protection of Moorland Communities’. Here’s a copy of the group’s web report about last night’s protest:

Moorland communities protest in Harrogate against unjust attacks on their livelihoods

Demonstrators from the Yorkshire Moorland Communities braved the weather to take a message to BBC Presenter Chris Packham as he arrived at the Royal Hall in Harrogate to give a talk this evening (Saturday, 19th October).

That message could not have been clearer: livelihoods and whole communities are under threat by misleading statements and actions by the likes of Chris Packham.

[Photo from Campaign 4 Protection of Moorland Communities]

A famously outspoken critic of driven grouse shooting, the presenter, campaigner and author was met outside the theatre by over 100 fed-up members of the moorland communities, who depend on moorland activities for their livelihoods. They held placards reading “Chris Packham – ignoring science since 04.05.1961!” (Packham’s date of birth), and a large banner declared: “Moorlands are our lives, our livelihood and our community. We stand in unity to protect them.”

Chris Packham and his followers are wilfully misrepresenting facts and distorting clear scientific evidence” said Roy Burrow’s, estate manager at a nearby moorland. “These are large communities who live and work in these uplands, and rely on the moorland for their livelihoods. The simple fact is that stopping grouse shooting, or rewilding the moor, could destroy many local businesses, local livelihoods and the very social fabric that makes the moorlands such a wonderful place to live in and to visit.”

Packham makes no secret of his dislike for grouse shooting, frequently posting about it on social media. He even spoke at last month’s Green Party conference about his campaign to ban driven grouse shooting. However, many argue that the BBC should not allow him to use his platform to promote his personal agenda when there is extensive scientific evidence available to show the environmental and conservational benefits brought from well managed moorlands.

The protestors sang chants including: “From bus drivers to gamekeepers, together we thrive, we need to protect, moorland community lives”.

A spokesperson for The Campaign for the Protection of Moorland Communities, said: “The moorland management system which grouse shooting sustains creates a unique landscape that encourages rare and endangered wildlife, as well as being the foundation of the moorland area’s rural economy. This is reinforced by clear scientific evidence, which is too often wilfully ignored by our opponents. The facts are very clear: without grouse shooting these areas would lose millions of pounds in investment each year causing lives and livelihoods would be destroyed, alongside one of Britain’s most unique habitats. It is disgraceful that a rich celebrity from Hampshire thinks it is okay to dictate to the hard-working people of Yorkshire how we should live our lives. Moorland and other rural communities seem to be the only cultural minority Chris Packham and others think it is okay to abuse. Enough is enough.”


It’s ironic that the group accuses Chris of abusing a cultural minority. According to our own research, one of the main instigators behind this new group appears to be someone called Simon Grace, ‘a shooting enthusiast’ from Yorkshire (the old guy with the white hair behind the banner, above, and the guy holding the megaphone, far right (appropriately) in the photo of the protesters at the top of this blog), whose activities have previously been promoted by articles in Shooting Times and on the Fieldsports TV website.

Simon Grace’s twitter feed makes for a fascinating read and perhaps explains why he’s managed to attract only four followers since June 2016.

He’s not a racist, homophobic xenophobe abusing cultural minorities. No siree Bob. Not at all.

What is it about game shooting and hunt supporters that attracts the right wing mob? There’s probably a PhD topic there for someone.

41 Responses to “Police called as grouse shooting supporters threaten disruption at Packham gig in Harrogate”

  1. 1 Steve
    October 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    So many things to say “wow” to here. One of them in response to the bit about “such a wonderful place to live in and to visit” – driven grouse moors are the reason I don’t, and haven’t for years, visit such moorlands. Bit of an own goal, that one…

    • 2 JBNTS
      October 21, 2019 at 11:13 am

      I totally agree. I’ve given up visiting our upland grouse farms that pretend to be outstanding natural landscapes. If I want to encounter wildlife in a National Park I head for the Pembrokeshire Coast.

  2. October 20, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Not one mention of raptors or crime in that whole webpage quote.
    What makes me think they aren’t getting it.

    • October 20, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      Harrogate not used to such ill-bred behaviour as protest marches! Theatre goers no doubt enjoyed the extra drama and will have understood the conflict even more so now.

    • 5 Iain Gibson
      October 20, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      I think most of them do get it, but organise demonstrations and publish lies to demonise Chris Packham et al. I don’t think most of the public are impressed by their antics, but most of the grouse shooting ‘community’ (of fools) are ignorant of the science and extremely arrogant by nature. I know that insulting them isn’t PC, but having read this blog I just can’t help it.

      • 6 Giles W
        October 20, 2019 at 6:13 pm

        Insulting them is the only language they understand from what I’ve seen from their bile on Chris Packham’s FB page etc. So insult away!

  3. 7 AndyH
    October 20, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Trapped your feet in your own Fenn traps there guys (mostly males from the look of the photos).
    Yes, you are all in danger of losing your livelihoods.
    However, if you bothered enough to realise that it is the criminal fraternity in your ranks that have caused this whole debate against driven grouse shooting then you could reverse the situation by kicking out any keepers known to be destroying protected birds.
    You could start by dealing with the male known as the “verminator” – you will all know who I mean.
    It is the intimidating nature of your activity, at least from some of those involved, that creates anti-shooting.
    Show that you’re willing to change your ways, or suffer the eventual consequences, though I’m not so sure that you’ve got it in you to do that.
    There’s no point blaming Chris Packham for your problems – it’s YOU that have to mend your ways.
    What does your “science” say about persecuting raptors?

  4. 8 Geoff S
    October 20, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I wonder how Simon would feel about banning the balaclava? They seem to be very popular with people who dress like gamekeepers whilst illegally persecuting birds of prey.

  5. 9 Pamela Aitken
    October 20, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Poor Chris Packham – these people enjoy killing..it’s not to survive in the wilderness -to make huge amounts of money killing creatures for so called fun ( sport?). Several people I met years ago in an area of Yorkshire we visit frequently ,found these people people who should actually not carry guns ( in my opinion!) aggressively active And often quite threatening to people who have different opinions about (traps / poison etc) on land they walk with children and family pets . Living in the countryside for over 50 years in an area where pheasants are reared for shooters to ‘ enjoy’ I am permanently in favour of removing all guns until certified as a stable human being- this would be food only for the pot-and no birds introduced from abroad -all locally reared and of course not encouraging them to areas for feeds as feeding makes them tame!! The killing of the beautiful birds of prey is appalling and heartbreaking. Maybe tourism would take over for the lower paid lackeys and business improve as it isn’t a secret that the moorlands have traps on them is it.

    • 10 Iain Gibson
      October 20, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      Sorry Pamela, but I can’t agree there is such a thing nowadays as a hunter who is also “a stable human being.” I feel you should rethink the logic of being prepared to accept that their interest is purely culinary. They are usually arrogant middle class thugs who think it’s great fun to shoot as many grouse as possible, and boast about it. They regard beaters and keepers as the equivalent of slaves and servants on near-minimal wage (some beaters are volunteers, or in the 1970s when I worked on a grouse moor as a countryside ranger, unpaid prisoners on day release). I sympathise with your feelings about the killing of raptors, beautiful or not, but firmly believe that the only solution is an end to ALL grouse shooting, not just the driven sort. My experience over many years is that walk-up shoots are just as damaging to the hen harriers and other predators, not to mention slaughtering thousands of mountain hares for no justifiable reason. That’s just another income source for the landowner, abhorrently to provide an exciting burst of blood-lust for the moorland vampires.

  6. October 20, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Im greatly impressed by this [and a tiny bit jealous!?]…an entire career of catching the persecutors and helping get them into court and I never saw more than 1 or 2 “objectors” at any of my talks…well done Chris, youve broken the arrogant silence and feeling of untouchability that has surrounded this “community” for decades. We can only hope for a backlash in the countryside against these people, who do not talk for the majority of decent folk out there.

  7. 12 Mairi L
    October 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Haven’t read it all (more than enough!) but interesting ‘discussions’ here https://www.salmonfishingforum.com/forums/the-lounge/197682-well-done-simon-grace.html

    • October 22, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Im appalled by that Mairi – as a lifelong angler, including salmon in recent years, I do not appreciate these people hijacking a fishing forum to promote their warped agenda…and I know I speak for a very large proportion of fellow flyfishermen. Theres not much catch and release involved in shooting!..Its the same with that extremist side of angling who want to kill every fish predator – cormorants, goosanders…even dippers and otters – they have no real love for wildlife, their idea of the countryside is of a large playpark for bloodsports.

      • 14 Les Wallace
        October 23, 2019 at 3:28 pm

        Have to agree with you Dick, I am a former angler and one of the main reasons I gave up was I could no longer stand the ecological ignorance within the sport. I appreciate there are genuine conservationists and naturalists among them – I was one myself – but too many of the participants and their representative organisations were absolutely bloody awful. Maybe coarse fishermen are even worse than fly fishers, the number of carp anglers that troll on Chris Packham’s FB page is noticeable, but I wasn’t too surpised after the bottle nose dolphins at Channonry point were filmed eating big salmon that there calls on social media for the dolphins to be ‘controlled’. I think increasingly we are going to see anglers jump on the anti predator bandwagon re punting the message they need to be culled to the public. That worries me and I really think the conservation organisations need to start looking at pooling together and giving the public a bit of an ecological education about the role of predators and their presence actually being a conservation tool – i.e pine martens eating grey squirrels and allowing red squirrel numbers to recover. It’s disturbing how much the idea that otters now need to be ‘controlled’ is creeping into social media now – definitely seems to be an upsurge in their illegal killing.

  8. 15 WTF
    October 20, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    What a joke – accusing CP of ignoring evidence. What about the detailed evidence which they are ignoring – starting with the AONB BOP persecution evidence report and the RPUK map showing sites of both confirmed and suspected wildlife crimes? Hen Harriers shot, trapped or disappeared and Red Kites shot and poisoned to mention just two species. And these cases are just the ones we know about – there will have been many more. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that persecution at such a level is normality to them, so why bother mentioning it? No doubt some of the perpetrators were in Harrogate on Saturday night.

    They are quite right about one thing. The AONB moorlands are, indeed, wonderful places to visit. Or they would be if the dale wasn’t seriously tainted by the widespread crimes against wildlife which ‘Roy Burrow’s’ and his cronies conveniently fail to mention.

    I love the bit in their statement about how these supposedly tough, outdoor, moorland types ‘braved the weather’ to make their protest on a mild evening in the middle of Harrogate! No evidence of a raging storm in their photos.

  9. 16 Les Wallace
    October 20, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    There were a few comments on CP’s FB page yesterday about people coming to the Harrogate talk to ‘ask questions’ from which it wasn’t difficult to deduce something like this was on the cards. Of course the last thing that would ever happen is any of that lot to actually ask Chris any question because he’d make them look like the right tits they are. Waving banners and chanting is about all they can manage. Intimidation is rife with these numpties, not just the occasional bad apple that does it so very good to see that the amount and degree of abuse received on social media has been flagged up the public need to know how bad it is when for years they’ve been told it’s ‘animal activists’ that have been the bullies.I know Harrogate and the countryside around it fairly well and it’s completely effing laughable to me that attacking grouse shooting risks jobs there – it’s hanging on to it which is killing rural economies. There are spots among the moors like Brimham Rocks, Fountains Abbey and the Bronte village of Haworth that are well worth a visit, but the grouse moors between them have created a bleak, dreary, uninteresting and largely wildlife free landscape you just try and get through as quickly as possible to get to the very few good bits. Grouse moors aren’t just killing hen harriers they are killing the land and communities too. Those pricks are the assassins.

  10. 17 Chris T
    October 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I was there, they were a bit of entertainment while we ‘braved’ the light drizzle waiting to get in. About 40, with the obvious ringleaders dressed up in finest tweeds and they seemed to have just one chant. I’m afraid I guffawed very audibly when the chap with the megaphone claimed they were ‘the real cinservationists’ though.
    One positive was when the very well-to-do lady (Harrogate! ) behind us in the queue asked what they were there for. When I explained they were anti-Packham, she replied in one of the poshest voices I’ve ever heard “why the hell not?! At which point I was able to explain a bit about raptor persecution and gamekeepers.
    Shane any of them with tickets weren’t quite so brave if they did get inside, Chris was very well received and the protestors had given up when we left.

  11. 18 Mike haden
    October 20, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Hmmm he obviously isn’t a royalist with his pro Catholic comments. Let’s face it sectarianism is the lowest form of discrimination, is as if you have run out of reasons to hate, that you hate someone who worships the same sky pixey but in a (not at all in reality) different way.

  12. 19 Lizzybusy
    October 20, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Chris is so brave to keep exposing these people in the face of threats, bullying, intimidate and lies. He’s absolutely amazing and a hero to so many of us – as are you, Ruth and Mark. These vile people just don’t have any decency. They’re revolting.

    Fortunately their despicable antics inspire some of us to take further action.


    The National Anti Snaring Campaign and the League Against Cruel Sports train people in how to find spring and bird traps and snares and identify the main crimes. Join NASC and the LACS! Join Moorland Monitors! Join Birders Against Wildlife Crime! Join OneKind!

    In the meantime, Wild Justice keep up the pressure on the pathetic regulators.

    There are some wonderful people and organisations out there! Keep up the great work!

  13. October 20, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    As this video clearly shows, it was a peaceful protest made up of families; including women and children from the local moorland community


  14. October 20, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    I see what their model of protest is. To create huge banners to make up for the lack of numbers. Their website claims over 100 attended, Yet I only counted 31 or so, and a lot of these appear to be children and family members dragged along to make their numbers look much bigger than they are. Even allowing for the odd person being out of frame, I very much doubt that there was over a hundred their. It’s a joke to have a protest about supposed lies, when they have not substantiated these accusations, whilst lying themselves.

    It’s very easy to make accusations about lying, but every time I challenge those in the shooting lobby to actually spell out the lies that Chris Packham has supposedly told – they’re left floundering. Usually they will refer to a tweet on the Chris Packham Twitter feed saying that Lapwings were shot (they used to be). However, Chris quickly corrected the mistake. The definition of a lie is when someone tells a deliberate untruth with the aim of misleading. If someone makes a genuine mistake and very promptly corrects their mistake and admits it was a mistake, with an apology, it is not a lie. In fact the lie is to claim that Chris lied. Chris’ correction was posted within hours of the earlier post. At the time Chris was campaigning against the shooting of waders in serious decline, which were still being shot i.e. Common Snipe, Woodcock and Golden Plover. The point being made by Chris elsewhere was that these waders still being shot had declined more than Lapwings, but shooting interests were only highlighting the decline of Lapwings, because they weren’t being shot. I highly suspect that the erroneous tweet wasn’t made by Chris himself, but someone assisting with the Twitter account, who simply garbled the message. But it was Chris who apologised.

    To carry on making an issue out of a brief mistake which was corrected within hours, with a full apology, and then years later to keep referring to it as a lie, is as I say a lie in itself.

    Let’s contrast this with Tim Bonner’s bizarre tweet that a photo of a Linnet in flight was a Sparrowhawk. That tweet remains up, and Tim Bonner has never admitted his error. In fact the shooting lobby makes one false claim after another, and never once attempts to correct their falsehoods. Most likely because they are intended to deceive.

  15. 29 Steven Mclean
    October 20, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Simon Grace .. do you remember that time a short while ago when you and your bunch of goons were in Bradford harassing people attending the Ban Blood sports on Yorkshire Moors event ?? Surely you do remember as it wasn’t that long ago .. You positioned yourself fairly close to the campaign table that was set up ..and when our backs were turned .. you decided to help yourself to a bag full of our campaign materials .. do you think it’s possible that you could return them and apologise for the theft that you committed ??

  16. 30 Secret Squirrel
    October 21, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Who is funding them/paid for the posters? As with all things, follow the money.

    As as for liveliehoods, I’m sure slave traders, plantation owners, chimney sweeps etc all said similar when their methods of operation became unacceptable to the majority of the population

  17. October 21, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Those replicated placards tell us this is not a local people’s grass roots campaign but has an organisation behind it.

  18. 32 Coop
    October 21, 2019 at 11:35 am

    C4PMC obviously stands for C***s for the protection of Moorland Criminals.

  19. 35 Douglas Malpus
    October 21, 2019 at 11:41 am

    These “moorons” know who is killing protected species, even if it is not themselves. They could eradicate the criminal element if they wanted to. But they do not even accept that is is happening, forever trying to say it is all fabrication.

    These “moorons” know who is killing protected species, even if it is not themselves. They could eradicate the criminal element if they wanted to.

    Let me see what response I get from my post on their facebook C4PMC (beep):

    ‘What a load of criminal “moorons”. You know who’s killing protected species, why don’t you get rid of the criminals.

    It seems that protecting criminals is what you want to do! Perhaps because too many of you consider them as friends?’

    Wish me luck with the onslaught of trolls and we’ll see if the allow it to be posted?


  20. October 21, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Sadly the attacks on anyone who challenges their strangely warped world view is subject to mindless and often vile abuse as we report on the Wild Mammal Persecution UK (https://wmpuk.home.blog/posts/ ) blog today. It is high time that those organisations that represent the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity clearly disassociated themselves from the misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic and racist rants of people who claim to be supporting them. If they don’t then we will all draw our own conclusions.

  21. 37 TOBornotTOB?
    October 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    These people need to have a long hard think about their chosen profession because all they know is how to kill, not to conserve. Lots of people have to change their occupations throughout their working lives and these killers need to get used to the prospect of re-training in the not too distant future. Having an occupation that deals in xxxxx and the death of our wildlife is not one to be proud of. I hope that when they are older, and out of the clutches of their parents, the children of these gamekeepers et al will realise what their parents didn’t do for the nation’s flora and fauna.

    As for Simon Grace, it would appear that he is not a very nice person (I’m being polite) and I am left wondering why Roy Burrows (who is supposed to be one of the ‘better’ gamekeepers) is having anything to do with him. If Roy Burrows didn’t know before then he knows now what kind of person Simon Grace is and he should come out and state that the ‘moorland community’ disassociates itself with the kind of comments made by Grace. If you don’t Roy Burrows, then you run the risk of people possibly coming to the conclusion that your ‘community’ are just a bunch of right wing, ignorant thugs.

    Mr Grace, you would do well to remember that the next time you shoot yourself in the foot, there is a high probability that you will be treated in hospital by someone who is gay or a muslim.

  22. 38 Steven Mclean
    October 21, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Good luck with the trolls Doug :) ..

  23. 39 Jeff P
    October 21, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Given that Mr Grace was behind the monumental success that was the 2019 Countryside Rally I fully expect this grassroots movement to sweep the nation and a surge in sympathy for these rural SJWs.

    LMAO I’ve seen more people in the queue to my local halal butchers.

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