Trophy hunters threaten to sue MPs over photos with dead animals

A group of trophy hunters has threatened to sue anti-hunting MPs for almost £100,000 over a report that featured photographs of them with animals they had shot.

The group has demanded payment for photos that were used by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Banning Trophy Hunting in a June 2022 report setting out the case for a ban.

The hunters said the photographs, which showed them posing with dead animals including lions, zebras and elephants, had been used without permission and they were therefore entitled to payment.

In March, the hunters sent invoices to Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet and former chairman of the now-defunct all-party group, demanding £1,200 per photograph. With 78 photographs used in the report, the total demand could reach £93,600.

Among those seeking payment are Intrepid Safaris Africa, a company offering trophy hunting tours in South Africa, Sussex-based gunmaker Paul Roberts and hunters Asif Wattoo and Manish Ghelabhai.

A spokesman for the hunters said that, as payment had not been forthcoming, they would begin legal action.

Separately, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has opened an investigation into Sir Roger, understood to relate to the all-party group.

Parliamentary rules restrict MPs’ ability to comment on ongoing investigations. Asked for comment, Sir Roger said only: “It has been referred to the House authorities for attention.”

The news comes as legislation that would ban the import of hunting trophies makes its way through Parliament.

MPs voted in favour of the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, introduced by Crawley MP Henry Smith, on March 17 and the Bill will now be considered by the House of Lords.

Banning the import of hunting trophies was part of the 2019 Conservative manifesto and the Bill has been backed by the Government, although opponents claim it will result in less funding for protected areas.

Sir Roger has previously spoken in favour of the Bill, comparing trophy hunting to paedophilia and calling it “another form of vile gratification”.