Chris Packham has been banned from the Game Fair, one of the biggest shooting industry events in the UK, as organisers accuse him of using his BBC platform to "misrepresent shooting".
The Springwatch presenter said he was aggrieved to have been labeled an "extremist" by the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC), and added that he was planning to attend to hear arguments in favour of shooting from those involved in field sports.
However, BASC has argued that the animal rights activist is currently working on a Panorama film, and there are worries he was attending the show undercover to "create propaganda".
Chris Packham has previously had to apologise to gamekeepers for accusing them of shooting lapwings, which is a protected bird and is not shot in this country.
BASC spokesperson Garry Doolan said: “Charlie Jacoby, of Fieldsports TV, has said he believes that Chris Packham is involved in a BBC Panorama programme called something like ‘Slaughter on the Grouse Moors’. To that end, it’s safe to assume Packham was coming to the Game Fair for propaganda purposes, not for balanced debate.”
The BBC did not respond when approached for comment about plans to film Panorama at the Game Fair.
A BASC spokesperson added: “It is right that The Game Fair does not give a platform for an extremist like Chris Packham to air his anti-shooting views. Mr Packham uses his celebrity status granted to him by his position with the BBC to misrepresent the facts about shooting and its clear value to the environment and conservation. The Game Fair is about celebrating the people who live and work in the countryside and continued polarisation of the debate by Mr Packham and others is of no benefit in this or any other medium.”
Chris Packham responded, labelling this "a triumph of predictably poisonous prose" and added that the game industry is "scared of the truths about illegal and unsustainable shooting".
He added: "This is disappointing...I was quite looking forward to a bit of robust debate there.
"I think it's because they're terrified of the truth being told on their own patch, and they keep being found out."
Former RSPB chief Mark Avery runs animal rights campaign group Wild Justice with Chris Packham, and he has also been banned from the event, held at Hatfield House tomorrow [FRI].
He said: "Dear BASC, you've been very rude & unfair to my friend and colleague Chris Packham.
"You should be ashamed. May I just check that you are calling me an extremist too? On what grounds? Why are my moderate views not welcome at the Game Fair?"