Legendary British gunmaker Paul Roberts had more than 1,000 hate messages and death threats after the Mirror.co.uk whipped up its readers against him. The online newspaper ran a story about how the 78-year-old enjoys hunting big game overseas.
Mirror writer Nada Fahoud has run a series of stories promoting a new ebook by the head of the Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting. Called Trophy Hunting Exposed, the book is a directory of big game hunters and safari companies.
Paul Roberts (left) runs the gunsmith J Roberts & Son and, for many years, ran riflemaker Rigby
According to Fahoud, Roberts owns ‘vile trophies’. Most of her article is a transcription of an interview on YouTube between Roberts and big game hunter Diggory Hadoke. Unfortunately, Hadoke has had to take down the film because of the online abuse. Here is Hadoke’s YouTube channel.
By republishing the contents of safari companies’ websites and adding comments about his outrage, Eduardo Gonçalves, who researched the book, encourages death threats against Roberts and other hunters. He is backed by comedian Ricky Gervais and actress Judi Dench.
The Mirror.co.uk story fails to point out the conservation benefits of hunting. It runs a couple of lines from Hadoke. In a post on Facebook, he reveals his entire comment to the Mirror.co.uk, including a warning that the website is inciting hatred and discrimination against people who enjoy hunting:
“I understand you are running a piece on hunting featuring an interview I did with Paul Roberts recently.
“I know about your well intentioned but misguided campaign to stop imports of animals hunted for sport overseas. I’m sure you find it gets you easy headlines as hunting is a soft target and a simple one from which to create simplistic memes and anger-inducing click-bait. However, sport hunting is one of the very few effective management tools that makes the preservation of wilderness areas and wild populations of native fauna viable in many parts of the world. Hunting dangerous animals is an exciting and honourable sport with long traditions, traceable throughout every human civilisation. I understand it is not to everybody’s taste but the positive effects of sport hunting are numerous and wide ranging, from the suppression of poaching and illegal logging, to the protection of native populations from dangerous animals and the preservation of blocks of wild flora from the encroachment of slash and burn farming. If you were evidence driven rather than agenda driven, and your motivation were pragmatic and scientific, rather than emotional and censorious, you could perhaps do some good. I’d be very happy to provide large amounts of such evidence, should you really be interested in the welfare and sustainability of native species in their natural habitat.
“I would ask you to be very careful in using the names, details and addresses of people you feature in your stories, as credible death threats and huge amounts of very distressing abuse always follow your sensationalist coverage of these issues.”
He adds: “I doubt they will use any of it.”