BBC impartiality row as Chris Packham rallies followers for XR Big One
The nature presenter said he would be attending the protest expected to bring widespread disruption to London on Biodiversity Earth Day as he called for more people to join in.
It follows the furore after Gary Lineker compared the Government’s language used to describe a crackdown on asylum seekers to that of 1930s Germany.
Lineker, 62, was briefly suspended from BBC’s Match of the Day on March 7 after responding on Twitter to a Home Office video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.
In a video advertising the eco-warrior action kicking off on Friday outside Parliament, Springwatch host Packham said: “It’s the Big One. Yes it’s the Big One that we’ve all been waiting for.
“A family-friendly affair, lots of fantastic events, fantastic speakers and most important of all some fantastic ideas.
“How we can change the world to make it a better place for people and for wildlife and we can secure its future too.
“I’m going to be there on the 22nd, it’s Biodiversity Earth Day, chipping in on that account. I hope to see you.
“It’s really important at this time that we all recognise that we all have a role to play in making sure that our planet has a safe and secure and healthy future.
“So please come along.”
A BBC spokesperson told the Standard: “We aren’t commenting on individual tweets, but the review into our social media guidance for freelancers is ongoing. The existing social media guidance remains in place.”
His open invitation sparked criticism on social media with some calling for the presenter to be sacked.
Photographer Josh Packham wrote on Twitter: “Ultimate shill & glad I’m not related. Why is he supporting organisations that terrorise the U.K. people?”
But one supporter tweeted: “The wonderful Chris Packham who can be relied upon to tell the truth.”
Another said: “Love him and support the cause but I reckon my journey to see Brighton on Sunday is going to be a difficult one with this, London Marathon and usual sh**e railways. Will feel like the Iliad.”
Celebrities at XR protests – In pictures
Last year, Packham told Novara Media that he had challenged their methods of protest but urged the group to “keep up their imagination” for new non-violent protests.
He said: “I support Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion. That doesn’t mean I support everything that they do. They’re a decentralized movement, no one is in control… and I’d argue that is a good thing. So just because they have got the t-shirt on doesn’t mean they are a paid up member.”
He added: “In a time when it is so difficult to get ‘news’ to the masses they are doing everything in their power to do that.
“Yes, sometimes they could be more imaginative and yes, sometimes their ideas outstay their welcome. There is only so many times you can throw soup at a painting to make the news…
“But what they are up against is people who want to paint them as villains. They are not they are truth sayers, they are the canaries in the coal mine.”
XR issued its ultimatum ahead of “The Big One”, a four-day protest outside Parliament from Friday until Monday, which organisers predict will attract around 30,000 people.
The protest coincides with a busy sporting weekend in London – which includes both FA cup semi finals at Wembley and the London Marathon.
It is calling for the Government to stop the search for new fossil fuels and to establish “emergency citizens’ assemblies” to decide how to bring about the end of the fossil fuel era.
XR said this week’s action in central London was not intended to be disruptive, nor would it target the coronation of King Charles next month.
However, Just Stop Oil, a separate group with similar objectives who are not listed as involved in the protest, has refused to rule out disrupting the marathon and said it expected many of its supporters to be there.
The Metropolitan Police have warned of a “firm” response to the protests and pledged to crack down on demonstrators gluing themselves to roads and buildings in an effort to highlight their cause.
Marijn van de Geer, of XR, told a press conference: “From today, we are putting the Government on notice.
“They have seven days to agree to enter negotiations around these two demands or we will step up our campaigns in new and inventive ways, working towards a coalition unprecedented in size.”
She said the Government has until 5pm on Monday April 24 “to agree to enter negotiations about the two collective demands that we have presented to them today”.
Ms van de Geer added: “If we don’t get a response, at 10am on Tuesday April 25 Extinction Rebellion will build an unprecedented coalition, stepping up our campaigns in the weeks and months ahead along three pathways – that is to picket to stand in solidarity with the strikers, to organise locally and to disobey.”
The BBC’s guidelines note that social media is “now part of everyday life” and that all of its staff are free to “engage in social media activities if they wish”.
However, they state that similar to official platforms, all activity “whether it is in a ‘professional’ or ‘personal’ capacity” should be informed by the Editorial Guidelines.