Wildlife presenter Chris Packham has said he won’t back down after being cleared of assault while filming a documentary on alleged illegal bird hunting in Malta.
The BBC Springwatch presenter was in court on Thursday 20 April in Gozo, a Mediterranean island off Malta, after being accused of two counts of assault.
Packham was cleared after showing footage from the incident as evidence in court, taken while filming an investigation into alleged illegal hunting and trapping of migrating birds in Malta. After the hearing, he told RadioTimes.com that he would not be “intimidated” by the experience.
“The charges are slightly different in Maltese, but basically I was accused of two counts of assault,” he said. “The accusation was made by a member of the Maltese public and a police officer, who claimed that I was jostling them.
“We do undercover filming, and so we had two sequences of film of the entire event, and also a sound pack of the entire event, and we knew that if we could get the magistrate to look at it it would entirely exonerate us.”
Watch the footage below
Packham, who is filming the documentary with charity BirdLife Malta and is not working with any UK broadcaster on the project, said that the footage would now form part of the documentary when it is released on YouTube.
NOT GUILTY! And wait until you see our evidence… pic.twitter.com/116etMAHfE
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) April 20, 2017
“While a lot of people might be intimidated of being jostled around, being shoved about by policemen and being kept in a station for three hours, it doesn’t intimidate me. I see it as part of the process,” he said.
“I’m afraid they picked on the wrong guy. I understand what’s going on. I used to get roughed up as a kid; getting roughed up as an adult, it doesn’t matter. It’s about the result, and it turned out very favourably, because we are able to draw attention to the fact that the law basically isn’t working when here it comes to wildlife crime. That will hopefully put pressure on the government to sort it out.”
Packham has already filmed a similar documentary on Cyprus, and has campaigned against bird hunting in Malta for several years, claiming in a recent Facebook video that he has witnessed several cases of illegal hunting and trapping during filming this year.
However, bird hunting on the island has also been described as part of the country’s “traditional way of living”.
Packham says he hopes the film will be ready within a couple of weeks: “We want the independence of being able to broadcast this ourselves. It’s nothing to do with any broadcaster, we’re all independent, we’ll put it on YouTube and bring people to it via social media.”