‘Tis the season to be jolly – usually. Government lockdowns appear to have ruined Christmas for most Brits, but they haven’t hampered BBC wildlife programme celebrity Chris Packham’s spirit of giving, according to his website.
He has been selling Christmas cards – a pack of 10 for £16.50 + £1.64 postage – and “10% of the proceeds will go to charity”.
His website didn’t say which charity will receive the donations, but a post on Facebook revealed all.
“We have decided that the charity we will be supporting with these cards is wildjustice.org.uk so that we can continue to support our wildlife.”
That means the money will go to Packham and his friends Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery to fund legal challenges against government policies they don’t like, such as issuing permits to pest controllers who protect rare birds.
But there’s a problem here, Wild Justice isn’t a charity. It explains why on its website.
“Wild Justice is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. We decided not to set up a charity because that would limit some activities, eg campaigning against government policies, that we may want to carry out.”
Saying money will go to charity when it is not violates Advertising Standards Authority rules: “Price statements must relate to the product featured in the ad and should not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion.”
Comments by Facebook users who pointed out the irregularity have been deleted from Packham’s timeline.
Packham has altered his website and the Christmas card post to say sales “will also help in part to fund Wild Justice”. Judging by the comments, they’re unlikely to earn much, with the majority complaining about how expensive they are.
In a rare statement on Twitter, Packham insisted it was all a mistake.
A statement regarding my fundraising efforts for Wild Justice and The Wildheart Trust .@DailyMailUK pic.twitter.com/ia7Sk2WwSG
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) December 7, 2020
Complaints to the Charities Commission may go unnoticed, as the lax body has done little to stop against-the-rules political lobbying by RSPB, of which Packham is one of the vice-presidents. As Fieldsports News investigations have shown, the charity appears more interested in collecting property than protecting birds.