The Daily Mirror ran a story on 1st July as part of their campaign to ban trophy imports to the UK in particular and trophy hunting in general.
The focus of their ire was veteran hunter and gun trade legend Paul Roberts, who is singled out for the vitriol of opportunistic campaigner Edward Goncalves, who is promoting a new anti-hunting book. In it he ‘names and shames’ a league table of ‘worst trophy hunters in the UK’. Paul Roberts, former owner of Rigby, appears on the list.
The Mirror cites an interview Paul did with Diggory Hadoke for the Vintage Gun Journal, in June, in which, among other things, he discusses some of his experiences as an African hunter and singles out two or three close calls, where the animal came close to taking out the hunter. Encounters with leopard and elephant are prominent among them.
Prior to the piece being published, the Mirror asked Paul for a comment. He declined but passed the details of Nada Farhoud, the Mirror’s ‘Environmental Editor’. She wrote:
‘I am the environment editor at the Daily Mirror newspaper.
I have come across the video interview you have done with Diggory Hadoke in which you compare killing animals for trophies to getting “hooked” on drugs including the comment: “It’s like mainlining on heroin. You don’t come off it very easily.
We will be running a story in tomorrow's paper highlighting the comments you made during this interview.
We have been running a campaign to get the British government to ban the importation of trophy hunting parts into the UK.
If you would like to make any additional comments on this subject, please let me know by 5:30pm this evening.’
Paul asked Diggory if he would like to respond. Previous experience with tabloid journalists has shown conclusively that they have no interest in learning, they have already written the story before they start shopping for pictures, quotes, anecdotes and sources that will serve as confirmation bias for their agenda and with which they can seek to legitimise it by the inclusion of, apparently real, people and events. However, Diggory did send the following response to Ms Farhoud:
‘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.’
When the story was published on July 1st, it was unsurprising to see no substantive addressing of the counter narrative; the benefits hunting brings to wild populations of native animals in remote parts of the world. This is merely another example of tabloid victimisation of legitimate sportsmen for taking part in legal and licensed hunting activities.
For up-to-date coverage of the real stories behind sport hunting and conservation all around the globe, we recommend readers look on-line at the excellent Conservation Front Lines website, quarterly.
Following the Daily Mirror story, Paul has received over one thousand messages threatening him with death or injury, or abusing him. The senders have been reported to the police and it is hoped there will be prosecutions.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on