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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE Claim No QB-2021-001227
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS LIST
BETWEEN:
CHRIS PACKHAM CBE
Claimant
-and-
(1) DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
(2) NIGEL BEAN
(3) PAUL READ
Defendants
_________________________
AMENDED DEFENCE
_________________________
By way of substitution for: the Defence of the First Defendant dated 15 July 2021; the
Defence of the Second Defendant dated 19 July 2021; and the Defence of the Third
Defendant dated 15 July 2021
Paragraph references are to paragraphs in the Re-Amended Particulars of Claim
dated 24 March 2022
PARTIES AND BACKGROUND
1. As to paragraph 1:
1.1 The first sentence is admitted.
1.2 The second sentence is admitted. Except for his status as a trustee of the
Trust, the list of Presidencies, Vice-Presidencies, and patronages of little
known organisations held by the Claimant is wholly irrelevant to the issues
in this action. The Defendants reserve the right to rely on this gratuitously
lengthy list as an example of the disproportionate, oppressive and needlessly
costly manner in which the Claimant has chosen to pursue this claim.
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1.3 The Trust runs the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary on the Isle of Wight, a private
zoo owned and run by the Claimant’s girlfriend Charlotte Corney. The
Claimant is involved in the Trust, in that he:
1.3.1 has been a Trustee of the Trust since 19 May 2016, in which capacity
the Charity Commission’s Guidance says that it is important to be
aware of the laws that apply to regulated activities such as
fundraising;
1.3.2 is said on the Trust’s website to be someone who “champions its
cause”;
1.3.3 raises funds for the Trust; and
1.3.4 is effectively the high profile public face of the Trust.
1.4 The third and fourth sentences are admitted.
1.5 The Claimant maintains a Twitter account with the username
@ChrisGPackham and the handle “Chris Packham” (“the Claimant’s Twitter
Account”). The Claimant’s Twitter Account is subject to “blue tick”
verification by Twitter.
2. The Claimant is a highly controversial and polarising figure in the British
countryside and within the wider conservation movement, including as a result
of the following:
2.1 The Claimant’s active and high profile support, including via the Claimant’s
Twitter Account, for the anti-blood sport charity The League Against Cruel
Sports (“the LACS”).
2.2 The Claimant’s role as one of three Directors of strategic litigation company
Wild Justice, which instructs the same solicitors as those used by the
Claimant in these proceedings, and which has been used by the Claimant to
promote his position in these proceedings. Wild Justice is most well-known
for the following legal claims, which have had, or have been intended to
have, a very wide-ranging impact on the management of the British
countryside:
2.2.1 A successful legal challenge, via Natural England’s General Licensing
system, to the status of bird species which can be shot as “pests” if
they are believed to be damaging crops.
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2.2.2 A successful legal challenge to the status of non-native game birds,
which it has compelled the government to have re-classified as pest
species.
2.2.3 An unsuccessful legal challenge to the Heather and Grass Burning
(England) Regulations 2021.
3. Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 are admitted.
PUBLICATIONS
4. The Defendants plead to the Claimant’s case on publication entirely without
prejudice to their right to rely in relation to the costs of these proceedings on
the repetitious, disproportionate and misconceived approach taken by the
Claimant to his claim in defamation:
4.1 19 separate publications are pleaded, of which 17 publish the same or
substantially the same allegation, being that, as held at [33] in the Court’s
judgment on the Preliminary Issues in these proceedings, ([2022] EWHC 482
(QB) (Johnson J) (“the TPI Judgment”)) the Claimant dishonestly raised funds
from the public by stating that tigers had been rescued from a circus where
they had been mis-treated, whereas in fact (as the Claimant knew) the
tigers had been well-treated and had been donated by the circus.
4.2 The benefit to the Claimant by way of damages or vindication if his claim
succeeds in relation to all 19 publications, as opposed to a single publication
or a representative sample of the publications, is extremely limited. The
Claimant’s approach to the proceedings has, however, served to needlessly
increase costs.
4.3 The Claimant’s disproportionate approach to the scope and costs of these
proceedings is further demonstrated by the following:
4.3.1 The Claimant’s attempt to seek the Court’s approval for a costs
budget for the Preliminary Issues Trial of almost double the figure at
which the parties’ expenditure for such a hearing is typically capped.
This inflated budget was not approved by the Court, on the basis of
an Order of Master Dagnall dated 31 December 2021. The Claimant’s
budget was ultimately approved at less than the figure at which the
parties’ expenditure for a Preliminary Issues Trial is typically capped,
meaning that the costs incurred in the budgeting process were
unnecessary.
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4.3.2 The Claimant’s unnecessary use of two junior counsel in the
proceedings, including for a half day hearing without evidence
against unrepresented defendants.
4.4 The Defendants were until 16 March 2022 unrepresented in these
proceedings, and are sued personally, with no claim brought against CSM,
the publisher of the Articles complained of.
4.5 The Defendants believe that the Claimant’s lawyers are acting pursuant to a
“No Win No Fee” agreement, which has encouraged them to inflate and seek
the Court’s approval for higher than usual costs.
4.6 The Defendants raised the issue of the extensive and gratuitous costs caused
by the Claimant’s approach in submissions to the Court in relation to the
Claimant’s costs budget for the TPI by letter dated 9 December 2021. They
did so again, prior to the pleading of this Defence, by email on 24 March
2022, when the Claimant’s response failed to engage with the issue of the
disproportionate and costly nature of the Claimant’s approach.
4.7 The Defendants will ask the Court to have regard to the principles relating to
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPS”) articulated by the
ECHR in OOO Memo v Russia [2022] ECHR 229, and in particular the
“intimidating effect” of such claims, which is “often achieved by rendering
the legal proceedings expensive and time-consuming” in circumstances
where there is a “power imbalance between the plaintiff and the defendant”.
The Court will be asked to infer that, in the absence of any proper
explanation for his approach to the proceedings, the Claimant has adopted
it in a manner which is calculated to intimidate the Defendants in order to
restrict their legitimate criticisms of the Claimant, and to obfuscate rather
than clarify the issues in dispute between the parties.
4.8 The Court has alluded at [38] in the TPI Judgment to the “overlap” between
the meanings and the scope “for closely defining the issues”. The Claimant
failed to take these comments into account in re-amending his Particulars of
Claim. If the Claimant does not now significantly revise his approach to these
proceedings on a consensual basis, the Defendants will rely on the
contentions in this paragraph in relation to the costs of the proceedings as a
whole, in addition to the costs incurred to date.
5. Paragraph 6 is admitted only insofar as the Claimant’s particularised case on
publication is admitted by the Defendants in their response to paragraphs 7 to
13.
6. Paragraph 7 is admitted.
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6.1 As to the extent of publication of the Articles, the First and Second
Defendants plead as follows in relation to the extent of publication (by
number of page views, rather than unique users) as at 27 March 2022:
6.1.1 First: 2084
6.1.2 Second: 47,250
6.1.3 Third: 12,371
6.1.4 Fourth: 66,935
6.1.5 Fifth: 4678
6.1.6 Sixth: 1464
6.1.7 Seventh: 8068
6.1.8 Eighth: 16,128
6.1.9 Ninth: 2088
6.2 As to the extent of publication of the Videos, as at 27 March 2022, the First
Video had received 5953 views, and the Second Video 2885 views.
7. Paragraph 8 is noted.
8. As to paragraph 9:
8.1 As to paragraphs 9.1 to 9.10:
8.1.1 The publication and content of the Tweets in this paragraph are
admitted.
8.1.2 As at 27 March 2022
8.1.2.1 the Second Article Tweet had received 12844 impressions;
8.1.2.2 the Third Article Tweet had received 17158 impressions;
8.1.2.3 the Fourth Article Tweet had received 8190 impressions;
8.1.2.4 the Fifth Article Tweet had received 24919 impressions;
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8.1.2.5 the Sixth Article Tweet had received 3375 impressions;
8.1.2.6 the Video Tweet had received 21352 impressions;
8.1.2.7 the Seventh Article Tweet had received 15502 impressions;
8.1.2.8 the Eighth Article Tweet had received 40470 impressions;
8.1.2.9 the Further Eighth Article Tweet had received 3708 impressions;
8.1.2.10 the Ninth Article Tweet had received 5791 impressions.
8.1.3 As to the Claimant’s contention that each of the Article and Video
Tweets in this paragraph contained a link to the respective Articles
and Videos, thereby further publishing the Articles and Videos to
those who followed the link from the tweet:
8.1.3.1 The First Defendant does not know the extent of publication, if
any, of the Articles and Videos which is derived from the
availability of links to them on Twitter, and does not believe that
it is possible to obtain this information.
8.1.3.2 The First Defendant is liable as the publisher of the Articles and
Videos for the full extent of the views they received in any event,
and it is therefore irrelevant whether or not they were further
published via the Tweets in this paragraph.
8.1.3.3 To the extent the Claimant persists in advancing this case, or it is
relevant to liability or damages, the Claimant is required to prove
the extent of further publication via the Tweets.
9. Paragraph 10 is admitted.
10. As to paragraph 11:
10.1 Paragraph 11.1 is admitted insofar as relevant; the First Defendant is
responsible as editor/publisher for the Articles published on CSM
complained of in these proceedings, and as publisher of the Tweets on the
CSM Twitter Account complained of in these proceedings.
10.2 Paragraph 11.2 is admitted.
10.3 As to paragraph 11.3:
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10.3.1 It is admitted that the First to Fourth Articles were published by each
of the First and Second Defendants because each of them was
directly involved in the editorial process as author, editor, or
publisher.
10.3.2 The contention that the First to Fourth Articles were published by the
Third Defendant is denied:
10.3.2.1 The Third Defendant’s role in the publication of each of
the Articles was strictly limited to that of proof-reading for
spelling and grammar mistakes, and he had no involvement
whatsoever in the editorial content.
10.3.2.2 The shared by-line listing the Third Defendant as an
author of the First to Fourth Articles solely reflected his proof-
reading role. The shared by-line has been removed.
10.3.2.3 The Claimant will be invited to amend or not pursue this
aspect of his claim against the Third Defendant, or any claim
against him.
10.4 Paragraph 11.4 is admitted.
10.5 As to paragraph 11.5:
10.5.1 This is admitted to the extent that:
10.5.1.1 the First Defendant was involved in the editorial process
as editor and publisher; and
10.5.1.2 the Second Defendant was involved in the editorial
process as author.
10.5.2 If it is alleged, it is denied that the Second or Third Defendants have
any role as editor or publisher of content on CSM.
10.6 As to paragraph 11.6, paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 above are repeated.
11. As to paragraph 12:
11.1 Paragraph 12.1 is admitted.
11.2 As to paragraph 12.2:
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11.2.1 Paragraph 12.2 is admitted.
11.2.2 Paragraph 12.2.1 is admitted.
11.2.3 As to paragraph 12.2.2:
11.2.3.1 The Second Defendant is liable as the author of the
Second, Third, and Ninth Articles for the full extent of the views
they received in any event, and it is therefore irrelevant whether
or not they were further published via the Tweets in this
paragraph.
11.2.3.2 To the extent the Claimant persists in advancing this case
in respect of the Second, Third, and Ninth Articles, or it is relevant
to liability or damages, the Claimant is required to prove the
extent of further publication via the Tweets.
11.2.3.3 As to publication of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth
Articles and the First Video via the Article Tweets:
11.2.3.3.1 At common law, there is no basis in light of the content of
the Tweets for an inference that the ordinary reasonable
reader would have to follow the hyperlink to the relevant
Articles or videos in order to make sense of what was
being said, and the Second Defendant is therefore not
liable for republication at common law.
11.2.3.3.2 Pursuant to s.10 of the Defamation Act 2013, the Second
Defendant is not the “author, editor or publisher” of these
publications, and the Court therefore does not have
jurisdiction to hear and determine the Claimant’s action
for defamation against him in respect of them.
11.2.4 As to Paragraph 12.2.3:
11.2.4.1 The Second Defendant does not know the extent of
publication of the Second Video via the tweet at paragraph 10.4.
11.2.4.2 This paragraph is admitted, entirely without prejudice to
(i) the right of the Second Defendant to apply to strike out this
contention under the jurisdiction in Jameel v Dow Jones & Co Inc
[2005] QB 946 in the event that the publication which took place
did not amount to a real and substantial tort, and (ii) to rely on
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the inclusion of this publication in respect of the contentions as
to proportionality and costs set out at paragraph 4 above.
11.3 As to paragraph 12.3:
11.3.1 Paragraph 12.3 is denied. Paragraph 10.3.2 above is repeated. In
relation to the First to Fourth Articles: the Third Defendant is not
liable at common law as author and/or editor; and further or
alternatively pursuant to s.10 of the Defamation Act 2013, the Third
Defendant is not the “author, editor or publisher” of these
publications, and the Court therefore does not have jurisdiction to
hear and determine the Claimant’s action for defamation against him
in respect of them.
11.3.2 Paragraph 12.3.1 is denied. The Third Defendant will seek to strike
out this aspect of the claim under the jurisdiction in Jameel v Dow
Jones & Co Inc, including on the basis that: any publication which
took place did not amount to a real and substantial tort; the Tweets
which were Retweeted by the Second Defendant are themselves
already the subject of the Claimant’s claim against the First
Defendant in these proceedings; and, the Claimant’s claim against
the Third Defendant over these publications is, in all the
circumstances, not worth the candle.
11.3.3 Paragraph 12.3.2 is denied. The contentions at paragraph 11.2.3.3
are repeated in respect of the purported publication by the Third
Defendant via the Article Tweets and the First Video Tweet of the
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Articles, the First
Video, and by the Seventh Article also the First Video.
12. As to paragraph 13:
12.1.1 The first sentence is denied. By letter dated 2 April 2021, the Third
Defendant informed the Claimant that his role is limited to proof-
reading and that he has “zero input in the content” of the Second
Defendant’s work. This does not amount to an admission of editorial
input.
12.1.2 The second sentence is noted. Paragraphs 10.3.2 and 11.3.1 above
are repeated.
12.1.3 As to the third sentence:
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12.1.3.1 the Third Defendant’s responsibility for the publication of
the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Article
Tweets via Retweets is admitted, however, it is denied that this
gives rise to a viable claim for defamation against him, as to which
paragraph 11.3.2 above is repeated;
12.1.3.2 the Third Defendant’s responsibility for the publication of
the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Articles and the
First Video as set out at paragraphs 11.6 and12.3 is denied, as to
which paragraph 11.3.3 above is repeated.
12.1.3.3 The Defendants reserve the right to rely upon the
Claimant’s insistence on including the Third Defendant in these
proceedings (even in his Re-Amended Particulars of Claim) in
relation to the contentions on proportionality and costs pleaded
at paragraph 4 above.
MEANING
13. Paragraph 14 is admitted.
EXTENT OF PUBLICATION
14. As to paragraph 15:
14.1 Paragraph 15 is admitted to the extent that publication in respect of the
individual publications complained of is admitted below and/or the
Defendants’ case is proved at trial on the basis of evidence following
disclosure.
14.2 Paragraphs 15.1 to 15.3 are admitted. As to the First Article Tweet, the
Defendants cannot identify this Tweet, and no longer have access to
information about it (if it existed) via the CSM Twitter Account.
14.3 As to paragraph 15.4:
14.3.1 The “estimated number of interactions on Twitter” with the Second,
Fourth and Fifth Article Tweets is not admitted and the Claimant is
required to prove this aspect of his case on publication. The
Defendants do not know the number of impressions received by the
First Article Tweet. As to the impressions received by the Second,
Fourth and Fifth Article Tweets, paragraph 8.1.2 above is repeated.
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14.4 As to paragraphs 15.5, 15.6 and 15.7 it is denied that the facts and
matters in these paragraphs are a basis for the inference of substantial
publication, and the Claimant’s purported reliance on them is embarrassing.
The Defendants will rely upon the following features of Twitter in support of
their contention that tagging another Twitter account’s username within a
Tweet (“a Mention”) does not have any impact on the number of
impressions received by that Tweet:
14.4.1 According to Twitter’s “Help Center” a Mention appears: on the
sender’s profile page, in the recipient’s notification page, and in the
timeline of anyone on Twitter following the sender of a Mention.
14.4.2 All five of the accounts mentioned are corporate or organisation level
accounts.
14.4.3 A Mention which tags the Twitter Account of a company or
organisation may result in the individual responsible for monitoring
the relevant account seeing the Tweet which contains it, but it will
not in itself cause further publication of the Tweet, regardless of the
number of followers of the account mentioned.
14.4.4 The detailed contentions as to the followers of the accounts
mentioned are, in the circumstances, irrelevant and the Defendants
do not plead to them.
14.5 As to paragraph 15.8:
14.5.1 The contention that the Articles and the First Video “have been
widely shared on Facebook” is too vague to plead to.
14.5.2 It is admitted that the Articles and the First Video have been shared
by CSM’s Facebook account, and that this account is operated by the
First Defendant.
14.5.3 Paragraphs 15.9 and 15.10 are admitted.
Serious harm
15. Paragraph 16 is admitted.
DEFENCES
Substantial Truth
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16. The First and Second Articles in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.1 are
substantially true for the purposes of s.2 of the Defamation Act 2013.
PARTICULARS
16.1 The Claimant enjoys a privileged position as a BBC presenter:
16.1.1 As contended in the third sentence of paragraph 1, the Claimant is
very well-known for his work on television as a presenter of the
“Springwatch”, “Autumnwatch”, and “Winterwatch” television
series, and other natural history programmes.
16.1.2 The Claimant’s work for the BBC has led to him being extremely
recognisable amongst the public at large, and particularly amongst
that section of the public with an interest in conservation, animal
welfare, and the British countryside.
16.1.3 The BBC is the country’s national broadcaster, which is established
by Royal Charter, which is subject to highly restrictive Editorial
Standards, which are focused on impartiality and editorial integrity.
16.1.4 The Claimant, like all high-profile BBC presenters, benefits from his
association with the organisation and its standards and values, as
well as the availability of its content in the majority of the country’s
homes.
16.1.5 The Claimant’s privileged position as a BBC presenter is
demonstrated by the value of his support for a number of otherwise
niche or controversial causes, which has led to them receiving
greater publicity than they would otherwise. These, relevantly,
include the following:
16.1.5.1 Sweeping changes to the regulation and management of
the country’s native and non-native game birds achieved by Wild
Justice. Paragraph 2.2 above is repeated.
16.1.5.2 Vehement opposition to the keeping of animals in
circuses, and campaigning for its abolition, notwithstanding the
overwhelming weight of scientific evidence to the effect that the
practice is not inherently harmful.
16.2 The tigers which were the subject of the Claimant’s fundraising
statements were part of “Circo Wonderland”, a circus owned and run by
Ringo Macaggi and his family (“the Macaggi Family”) which operates
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predominantly in Spain. In around 2015 Circo Wonderland had eight big cats,
being seven tigers and one lion (“the Circus Big Cats”). During their time at
Circo Wonderland:
16.2.1 The majority of the Circus Big Cats had been born in captivity, were
brought up by the Macaggi family from birth, and had never lived in
the wild.
16.2.2 The seven tigers, especially when young, were taken for swims in
rivers and the sea when it was possible to do so.
16.2.3 The Circus Big Cats were healthy and happy, and spent the majority
of their time in a large enclosure which had food, water, toys,
climbing apparatus and plenty of shade.
16.2.4 Circo Wonderland did not merely comply with, but surpassed the
relevant Spanish regulations for the care and maintenance of the
Circus Big Cats.
16.2.5 The Circus Big Cats were treated by the Macaggi Family as well-loved
family pets, as well as being a valued part of Circo Wonderland’s
attractions. Ringo Macaggi in particular enjoyed a very close
relationship with them.
16.3 In around 2015:
16.3.1 Circo Wonderland found travelling and performing with the Circus
Big Cats increasingly difficult, in light of the different legal and
regulatory regimes in place in different regions of Spain, and
increasing public concern about the use of such animals by circuses,
notwithstanding the lack of any scientific basis for such concern.
16.3.2 Circo Wonderland could have sold the Circus Big Cats for significant
sums. Had it done so, the Macaggi Family would not have had any
control over the animals’ fate, and they may have been poorly
treated, or killed for their skins.
16.3.3 In light of their concerns for the fate of the Circus Big Cats, the
Macaggi family sought the assistance of a specialist Spanish animal
rights lawyer, Raquel Lopez Teruel, in order to find a suitable
destination for them.
16.4 Between 2015 and 2017, working with the Macaggi Family, Ms Teruel, in
an effort to re-home the Circus Big Cats:
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16.4.1 approached numerous animal sanctuaries within and outside Spain;
16.4.2 contacted Animal Advocacy and Protection (“AAP”), an international
animal welfare organisation based in Holland, with centres both in
Holland and a centre named “Primadomus” at Villena, in Spain
(“Primadomus”); and
16.4.3 negotiated between Circo Wonderland and AAP for the animals to be
re-homed at Primadomus.
16.5 Primadomus was chosen by the Macaggi Family and Ms Teruel for a
number of reasons, including:
16.5.1 its location in Spain, where the Macaggi Family could visit the
animals;
16.5.2 the ability of AAP to take all of the animals together in one place,
without needing to divide them into a number of different locations;
16.5.3 that Primadomus offered excellent facilities for the Circus Big Cats,
including ample space and swimming pools; and
16.5.4 that Primadomus staff are trained in animal welfare and the person
in charge of big cats’ welfare, Pablo Delgado, is particularly
knowledgeable about this issue.
16.6 After Circo Wonderland’s decision to re-home the Circus Big Cats, from
on or around 16 September 2016 the animals were temporarily held at the
privately run Núcleo Zoológico Petit Parc at Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
(“the Guardamar Zoo”). The Guardamar Zoo was recommended by the
Spanish Nature Protection Service (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza,
“SEPRONA”) to the Macaggi Family. At the Guardamar Zoo:
16.6.1 there were not adequate facilities for the Circus Big Cats and they
were not cared for properly; and
16.6.2 as a result of the inadequate care provided to them, the health
condition of the Circus Big Cats deteriorated.
16.7 The Macaggi Family visited the Circus Big Cats at the Guardamar Zoo and
were unhappy with the conditions there. As a result, the Macaggi Family
renewed their efforts to find them a suitable permanent home.
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16.8 On 21 September 2017, the Circus Big Cats were taken from the
Guardamar Zoo to Primadomus by AAP and the Macaggi Family.
16.9 AAP made a video documenting the transfer, which was published on its
website, and on YouTube on or around 10 October (“the Transfer Video”). In
the Transfer Video:
16.9.1 David Van Gennep of AAP confirms that what is being documented is
a “friendly transfer” which is taking place because a circus decided to
stop putting on performances with wild animals, which is described
in positive terms as “an incredible development”.
16.9.2 Ringo Macaggi of Circo Wonderland describes how the circus had
raised its tigers from when they were little, and how some of them
lived in his home. He later distinguishes between genuinely “wild”
animals and those which have been born in a circus and kept as pets.
16.9.3 There is footage showing the Guardamar Zoo, which is said to be
where the Circus Big Cats have been left following the decision by
Circo Wonderland no longer to perform with them.
16.9.4 Ringo Macaggi complains of the difficulties in re-homing the Circus
Big Cats, in light of the prohibitions imposed on performing with
them.
16.9.5 Ringo Macaggi makes clear that the Circus Big Cats could have been
sold for €2-3000 each, but that this would not have been a positive
outcome for them because they would have been killed for their
skins.
16.9.6 Ringo Macaggi explains that: the donation is taking place because the
Macaggi Family love the animals, and want to have a clean
conscience; and that the Macaggi Family know that the animals will
be well-treated.
16.9.7 David Van Gennep explains that the Circus Big Cats have suffered
from the unsatisfactory facilities at the Guardamar Zoo because of
the attempts by Circo Wonderland to re-home rather than sell the
animals.
16.9.8 Circo Wonderland is said to have arranged the transfer to
Primadomus.
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16.10 After negotiating and facilitating the donation of the Circus Big Cats to
AAP, Ms Teruel wrote and published her case notes on her firm’s website on
21 September 2017 under the heading “EL CIRCO WONDERLAND HACE
HISTORIA, entrega 7 Tigres y 1 León” (“the Teruel Report”). The Defendants
will rely on a translation of the Teruel Report, which, in addition to setting
out the history above, records as follows:
16.10.1 One of the tigers “Zoppa”, which was lame, had suffered from
this issue since her birth five years previously, and had never worked
in a show at Circo Wonderland, but had nevertheless been cared for
and fed by the Macaggi Family throughout her life.
16.10.2 Having collaborated closely with Circo Wonderland, Ms Teruel
was pleasantly surprised by their approach to the animals and this
made a surprisingly positive impression on her.
16.10.3 The Spanish state had failed to assist in re-homing animals such
as the Circus Big Cats, notwithstanding widespread prohibitions on
circus animals.
16.10.4 The donation of the Circus Big Cats was a historic event, since
Circo Wonderland is one of the largest circuses in Spain and had
decided to donate all of the animals to a sanctuary.
16.11 AAP offers curators and animal managers of zoos, permanent care
sanctuaries, safari parks, and wildlife parks the opportunity to become an
“outplacement partner” by offering a permanent home to its animals.
16.12 In a video entitled “Bob Books visits The Wildheart Trust” filmed with Ms
Corney in early 2018 and published on YouTube on 7 March 2018 (“the
Wildheart Trust Video”), Ms Corney refers to the prospect of the Wildheart
Trust becoming an outplacement partner for AAP in relation to some of the
Circus Big Cats.
16.12.1 At 0:50 in the Wildheart Trust Video Ms Corney says:
“We are now very well positioned to bring in additional
cats and we’re currently building a new rescue facility.
And we’re looking at two sets of cats that are currently in
a rescue centre in Spain having been voluntarily handed
over by a circus.”
16.12.2 At 1:36 in the Wildheart Trust Video Ms Corney says:
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“We’ve got, you know, the images of the cats – we haven’t
been to see them yet. We’ve got the video of them, we
know where they came from, their background. It’s really,
really motivating to think we want to bring them here and
we want to start getting to know them.”
16.12.3 The Court will be asked to infer on the basis of these two
statements in the Wildheart Trust Video that Ms Corney and, by
virtue of his close personal and working relationship with Ms Corney,
and his status as a Trustee of the Trust, the Claimant:
16.12.3.1 knew that the Circus Big Cats had since September 2017
been living in the excellent facilities offered by AAP, a leading
animal welfare charity, at Primadomus;
16.12.3.2 knew that the Circus Big Cats had been donated to AAP by
Circo Wonderland and were aware of the detailed contents of the
Teruel Report, alternatively knew the facts and matters recorded
in it by Ms Teruel;
16.12.3.3 were negotiating with AAP to become an outplacement
partner by offering some of the Circus Big Cats a permanent
home at the Wildheart Trust;
16.12.3.4 had viewed the Transfer Video; and
16.12.3.5 as a result of having viewed the Transfer Video, knew
that:
16.12.3.5.1 the Macaggi Family loved and cared for the Circus
Big Cats and wanted to ensure that they were well treated
when no longer part of the circus, and not killed for their
skins;
16.12.3.5.2 the Circus Big Cats had only lived temporarily at
the Guardamar Zoo; and
16.12.3.5.3 that the Macaggi Family had themselves arranged
and undertaken the transfer of the Circus Big Cats to
Primadomus, at their own expense.
16.13 In late May or early June 2018, the Claimant and Ms Corney undertook a
research trip to Spain accompanied by a journalist from the Daily Mirror
(“the Spain Trip”) to visit five tigers from among the Circus Big Cats, these
18
being Mondo, Girona, Antonella, Zoppa and Natasha (“the Tigers”). Pending
disclosure, and/or Requests for Further Information and/or the exchange of
Witness Statements in these proceedings, the Court will be asked to infer
that, consistently with the statements by Ms Corney in the Wildheart Trust
Video, and the prospective status of the Wildheart Trust as an outplacement
partner for AAP, the detailed background to the Tigers’ life at Circo
Wonderland and their donation to AAP by the Macaggi Family, including the
information in the Transfer Video and the Teruel Report, was provided or
explained to the Claimant by AAP during the Spain Trip.
16.14 In April 2018 the Claimant and Ms Corney initiated a fundraising
campaign for the purported purpose of helping to fund an attempt to rescue
the Tigers (“the Claimant’s Campaign”). As part of the Claimant’s Campaign,
the Claimant published or caused to be published the following statements
in relation to the Tigers:
16.14.1 On 28 April 2018 the Claimant published a Tweet at the URL
https://twitter.com/ChrisGPackham/status/990335137459122181?
s=20&t=vdvnwFgz20xm6KD5SAt8hg (“the 28 April Tweet”).
Embedded within the 28 April Tweet was a short video (“the 28 April
Video”) in which the Claimant said:
“The Wildheart Trust, based at the Isle of Wight Zoo, are currently
trying to rescue five circus tigers from Spain. These animals have
had a really terrible time and they could do with our help… we
could do with some more so that we can make these tigers’ lives
a lot healthier and happier, if you can…”
16.14.2 In late May or early June 2018, the Claimant and Ms Corney set
up a “JustGiving” fundraising appeal under the name “Hearts for
Tigers” (“the JustGiving Appeal”). As part of the JustGiving Appeal,
the Claimant and Ms Corney said:
“Help the Wildheart Trust provide safe sanctuary for five rescued
circus tigers at the Isle of Wight Zoo… During their time at the
circus they were kept in miserable and overcrowded conditions in
a tiny concrete cage all for the benefit of providing entertainment
for the public.”
16.14.3 During the Spain Trip, the Claimant was accompanied by Rhian
Lubin of the Daily Mirror. As a result of Spain Trip:
16.14.3.1 The Claimant filmed a video of two of the Circus Big Cats,
the tigers Natasha and Zoppa, at Primadomus (“the Mirror
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Video”). During the Mirror Video, the Claimant described the
tigers as follows:
“… a couple of tigers that were rescued from horrendous
conditions from a circus in Spain. They were kept with a
bunch of other tigers and a lion in a tiny area, about a
quarter of the size of a tennis court. They were all fed
together, so there was intense competition for food. Some
lost a lot of condition, they were in a really bad way. They
were never cleaned out. I mean this is desperate. Why is it
still happening? Well, because we still have circuses in
Europe that have wild animals and those animals are not
there for education or conservation, they’re there for
entertainment. [At this point, the footage shown displays
the Guardamar Zoo and then a dirty, rusted cage which
appears to be part of a truck for transporting animals].
And when they don’t entertain, they’re surplus to
requirements, and they just get abandoned, or abused.
Now, thankfully they’ve been rescued, and brought to this
absolutely fantastic rehabilitation centre…”
16.14.3.2 The Daily Mirror on 7 June 2018 published an Article
headlined “Rescued from circus hell: Help Chris Packham give five
abused tigers the retirement they deserve” (“the Mirror Article”).
The Mirror Article:
16.14.3.2.1 embedded and published the Mirror Video;
16.14.3.2.2 described the conditions in which the Circus Big
Cats were living at the Guardamar Zoo and then said
“luckily, all eight big cats were rescued from their prison
in a Spanish circus by animal welfare organisation AAP
Animal Advocacy and Protection”;
16.14.3.2.3 quoted the Claimant as speaking the first sentence
from the Mirror Video, as set out at paragraph 16.14.3.1
above; and
16.14.3.2.4 contained a link to the JustGiving Appeal.
16.14.3.3 The Defendants will ask the Court to infer that the
Claimant and Ms Corney had significant input into and/or
approved the content of the Mirror Video and the Mirror Article,
and consented to both publications being used to elicit sympathy
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and funds in the form of donations from the public for the
Wildheart Trust.
16.14.4 On 8 June 2018 the Claimant published a Tweet on the Claimant’s
Twitter Account (“the 8 June Tweet”) which linked to the JustGiving
Appeal and said:
“I recently travelled to Spain to rescue five ex-circus tigers
who lived in miserable conditions. They hadn’t entirely lost
their trust in people and greeted us with a tiger hell ‘chuff’.
Help us to raise money for their new home
@IsleofWight_Zoo”.
16.14.5 On 20 September 2018, the Claimant co-wrote an article with Ms
Corney in online magazine “The Face” under the headline: “How
wildlife experts Chris Packham and Charlotte Corney are liberating
traumatised big cats from circuses across Europe” (“the Face
Article”). In the Face Article, the Claimant and Ms Corney referred to
the Tigers as follows:
“Mondo, Girona, Antonella, Zoppa and Natasha had been rescued
by the Dutch animal welfare charity Animal Advocacy and
Protection (AAP), and sent to their rehabilitation centre,
Primadomus, outside Alicante in southern Spain…
To this day, Chris struggles to keep a dry eye when he describes
the moment Mondo sunk himself into the soothing waters of his
big pool. Tigers love to swim. For the first time ever, Mondo
could…
These were, after all, animals which were forced to live on top of
each other in captivity, crammed into a squalid concrete cell and
left to compete for scraps of chicken. And, when they weren’t,
they were performing to the crack of a whip, their lives framed by
a circle of flaming fear – literally and figuratively – which brought
the Big Top down night after night…
… the more animals taken in by us, and similar sanctuaries, the
more centres like AAP Primadomus will have additional space to
deal with a backlog of desperate animals waiting in line to be
rescued.”
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16.14.6 The Defendants will rely upon the facts and matters pleaded at
paragraph 16.1-16.11 above in support of their contention that the
six statements identified in this paragraph:
16.14.6.1 in the case of the 28 April Video and the 8 June Tweet
falsely claimed that the Tigers were to be rescued from a circus
by the Claimant, implying that the Claimant would be directly
involved in liberating the Tigers from miserable conditions in
captivity;
16.14.6.2 in the case of the remaining four statements, falsely said
or implied that the Tigers had been “rescued” from a circus in
unspecified circumstances;
16.14.6.3 in the case of the JustGiving Appeal, the Mirror Video, the
Mirror Article and the Face Article, falsely claimed that the circus
from which the Tigers had been rescued had cruelly forced them
permanently to live in a wholly inadequate, tiny cell in which they
had lacked space to exercise;
16.14.6.4 in the case of all six statements falsely claimed that, while
at the circus, the Tigers had been subjected to egregious
mistreatment and, in particular:
16.14.6.4.1 in the case of the 8 June Tweet falsely claimed that
they had been so badly mistreated that they ought to
have lost their trust in people entirely; and
16.14.6.4.2 in the case of the Face Article falsely claimed that,
in addition to cruelly being forced permanently to live in
a wholly inadequate, tiny cell in which they had lacked
space to exercise, they lived in desperate conditions and
were forced to compete with each other for scraps of
food.
16.15 The prominence and success of the JustGiving Appeal, and the
favourable and high-profile coverage received from The Daily Mirror and The
Face were derived in whole or in part from the Claimant’s privileged status
as a BBC presenter. Paragraph 16.1 above is repeated.
16.16 The Claimant’s raising of funds from the public on the basis of the
statements set out at paragraph 16.14 above was fraudulent, in that he
made the false statements set out at paragraph 16.14 above, he did so
dishonestly, because he knew on the basis of the facts and matters set out
22
at paragraphs 16.12 and 16.13 above that the statements he had made were
untrue or misleading, and he did so with the intent to make a gain for
himself, and/or Ms Corney, and/or the Wildheart Trust via the JustGiving
Appeal.
16.17 In support of their case as to the Claimant’s dishonest state of mind in
making the statements set out paragraph 16.14, the Defendants will further
rely on a video published by the Claimant on Twitter on 7 December 2020,
following the publication of the First Article and the Second Article
complained of in these proceedings (“the 7 December Video”). In the 7
December Video, the Claimant:
16.17.1 says that the Tigers were “handed over” to AAP, i.e. he admits
that they were not rescued, but at the same time the Claimant
purports to rely in support of his false statements on a further
knowingly false statement, contradicted by what is said in the
Transfer Video and in the Wildheart Trust Video that AAP “have
always referred to these animals as “rescued tigers””; and
16.17.2 deliberately and misleadingly conflates the conditions at the
Guardamar Zoo with the Tigers’ life at the circus, referring to the
conditions at the Guardamar Zoo depicted in the Transfer Video and
saying in relation to those conditions “I’ll let you make up your own
mind as to whether these animals were being badly treated at the
circus.”
16.18 In all the circumstances, the Defendants will contend that it is
substantially true that the Claimant abused his privileged position as a BBC
presenter by fraudulently raising funds from the public for his girlfriend’s zoo
charity by falsely stating that tigers at the zoo had been mistreated by, and
rescued from, a circus, when, as he knew, the tigers were well-loved family
pets that had been donated to the zoo.
17. The Third Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.2.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on:
17.1 The Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16 above.
17.2 The substantial truth of the imputation that the Claimant lied when he
claimed that a tiger which the Wildheart Trust had rescued died from injuries
sustained at the Circus.
PARTICULARS
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17.2.1 The tiger which the Claimant alleged had died from injuries sustained
at the circus was Simi, a tiger which had been unlawfully seized from
a German circus, the Las Vegas Circus, in 2014.
17.2.2 The owners of the Las Vegas Circus, the Köllner Family, brought
proceedings in Germany in 2016 in relation to the seizure by the
German authorities of Simi and other animals. The Court accepted
evidence from a number of veterinarians on behalf of the Köllner
Family that there were no deficiencies in the care of the animals
seized, that they displayed normal behaviour, formed a
homogeneous group, and had access to adequate space.
17.2.3 The German Court found that the Köllner Family had not mistreated
the animals, and that their seizure was unlawful.
17.2.4 Before the Court ruled on the seizure and the condition of the
animals, the German authorities sold the animals, including Simi, for
around €100 each.
17.2.5 The Trust obtained Simi from Germany notwithstanding the unlawful
nature of the animal’s seizure from the Köllner Family. The Court will
be asked to infer that the Trust, and the Claimant, knew or were
made aware of the litigation in Germany which was, in part, focused
on an animal which they had re-homed and were responsible for as
her new owners, and which found that she had not been mistreated
or poorly cared for.
17.2.6 Simi died in 2019, five years after her unlawful removal from the
circus at which the German Court had accepted that neither she nor
the other animals seized were mistreated or suffered from significant
health problems.
17.2.7 The Trust made public statements in December 2019, which the
Court will be asked to infer were made with the input or approval of
the Claimant in light of the facts and matters pleaded at paragraph
1.3 above, to the effect that Simi had died as a result of injuries
sustained during her life as a circus performer.
17.2.8 In all the circumstances, the statements made by the Claimant about
the reasons for Simi’s death were untrue, and the Claimant knew that
they were untrue.
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18. The Fourth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.3.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the
Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16 above.
19. The Fifth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.4.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on:
19.1 The substantial truth of the imputation that the Claimant threatened
defamation proceedings, demanding that Country Squire Magazine’s
Publications be removed.
PARTICULARS
19.1.1 The Claimant’s solicitors sent a letter of claim to the First Defendant
dated 19 March 2021 (“the Letter of Claim”), seeking the removal of
the First to Fourth Articles from CSM, which threatened “within
seven days… to settle and issue proceedings” if this did not take place.
19.2 The Claimant’s defamation threat in the Letter of Claim was in respect of
the accurate exposure by Country Squire Magazine of the Claimant’s lies,
and did not have any proper basis:
PARTICULARS
19.2.1 Paragraph 16 above is repeated.
19.2.2 The Letter of Claim failed to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for
Media and Communications Claims (“the Protocol”):
19.2.2.1 In respect of the requirement at paragraph 3.2 of the
Protocol, that the Letter of Claim include information regarding
factual inaccuracies or unsupportable comment within the
statement complained of and a sufficient explanation to enable
the Defendant to appreciate why the statement is inaccurate or
unsupportable, the Letter of Claim failed to:
19.2.2.1.1 explain why the statements which were the focus of the
First to Fourth Articles were untrue; or
19.2.2.1.2 to particularise or explain what the Claimant’s state of
knowledge in fact was in relation to the facts and matters
relating to the Tigers and his fundraising activities on their
behalf in the Articles complained of.
25
19.2.2.2 The deficiencies in the Letter of Claim, in particular its lack
of engagement with the sting of the imputations in the First to
Fourth Articles in relation to the Claimant’s state of mind, were
consistent with the dishonest statement made by the Claimant in
response to the First and Second Articles in the 7 December
Video, as to which paragraph 16.7 above is repeated.
20. The Sixth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.5.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the
Particulars of truth set out at paragraphs 16 and 19.2 above.
21. The Seventh Article and the First Video are substantially true in the meaning set
out at paragraph 14.6. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of
substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
22. The Second Video is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.7.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the
Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
23. The Eighth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.8.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in relation
to the first sentence of the meaning set out at paragraph 14.8 on the Particulars
of truth set out at paragraph 16. As to the second sentence, it is substantially
true that the Claimant lied when he said that gamekeepers were burning peat
during COP26, when he knew that was untrue.
PARTICULARS
23.1 On 27 and 28 October two lawful Muirburns were conducted at Allargue
and Edinglassie estates in Cairngorms National Park, Aberdeenshire, on the
basis that they were approved by NatureScot and carried out in accordance
with the Muirburn Code (“the Muirburns”).
23.2 The Muirburns and their aftermath were filmed by the LACS, which
produced an edited film of the event (“the LACS Film”). The LACS Film shows:
23.2.1 the Muirburns being carried out by persons with the necessary
equipment;
23.2.2 the Muirburns under close control and the leading edge of the strip
fires advancing in a rapid or “cool” burn, which does not penetrate
to the underlying peat;
26
23.2.3 the aftermath of the Muirburns in which the heather is blackened but
moss sticks up above the heather, demonstrating that the underlying
peat had not been touched.
23.3 COP 26 took place between 31 October and 11 November 2021 in
Glasgow.
23.4 The LACS Film was screened at a fringe event during COP 26.
23.5 The Muirburns were reported on by the Daily Record in an article
published on 11 November 2021 under the headline “Scots shooting estate
toffs accused of 'putting two fingers up to COP26' by burning grouse moors”
(“the Daily Record Article”). The Daily Record Article included the following
comments:
23.5.1 A statement by Stuart Young, Chief Executive of Dunecht Estates,
which said that Muirburn is lawful and that controlled fires following
the official Muirburn Code do not damage the peat underneath.
23.5.2 A statement by Sarah Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land &
Estates, which said that controlled burning does not damage peat.
23.6 The Claimant made the following statements in relation to the
Muirburns:
23.6.1.1 A post on the Claimant’s Twitter Account which said:
“Sticking two fingers up to a world in ecological crisis - grouse
moors burn peat during @COP26 & their apologists pedal the
same old lies . Embarrassing @scotgov ? Yep , so stop the burning
then , easy when you are brave enough and have the will
@LeagueACS” and embedded the Daily Record Article.
23.6.1.2 In a video published on YouTube on 14 November 2021
entitled “COP26 Has Failed Us, And It Has Failed Our Planet —
Chris Packham”, the Claimant said: “... And whilst this has been
happening, symbolically they’ve been spitting in our faces. Grouse
moors burning here, in Scotland. Peat going up in smoke, carbon,
going up in smoke.”
23.6.1.3 On 14 November 2021, the Claimant spoke at a meeting
of the anti-grouse moor coalition Revive, at which he asked
attendees to imagine smoke (from Allargue and Edinglassie in
Aberdeenshire) passing over the very building where delegates
were discussing climate change (SEC in Glasgow).
27
23.7 The Claimant is an intelligent and knowledgeable commentator on
nature and conservation. He has sufficient knowledge of grouse moor
management and its impact on the environment and biodiversity to
understand the contrast between the Muirburns on the one hand and, on
the other, the impact on unmanaged heather moorland of uncontrolled
wildfires. The latter, with a high fuel load, produce fires of extreme severity,
which can burn for days or weeks and cause lasting damage to the
ecosystem.
23.8 The Court will be asked to infer that the Claimant had watched the LACS
Film and read the Daily Record Article, and that he would have known having
done so that: the Muirburns were controlled and managed fires which did
not burn peat and cause associated carbon emissions.
23.9 In all the circumstances, the Defendants will say that Claimant lied
when he said that gamekeepers were burning peat during COP26, when he
knew that was untrue.
24. The Ninth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.9.
The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in relation
to the first sentence of the meaning set out at paragraph 14.9 on the Particulars
of truth set out at paragraph 16. As to the second sentence, it is substantially
true that the Claimant further lied by asking for donations to feed the animals
during the Covid emergency whilst dishonestly concealing the fact that the
Trust was due to receive a large insurance payment, potentially £500,000.
PARTICULARS
24.1 On 20 March 2020 the Claimant and Ms Corney launched an appeal on
behalf of the Trust on crowdfunder.co.uk under the headline “SOS - Save Our
Animal Sanctuary - Covid19 Appeal” (“the Covid19 Appeal”). The Covid19
Appeal page contained text and a video, published on YouTube under the
headline “Our Animals Need Your Support – Chris Packham” (“the Appeal
Video”), referring to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic was putting the
Trust “under enormous financial stress”. The Covid19 Appeal portrayed the
circumstances faced by the Trust as an existential threat.
24.2 The Trust, as the Court will be asked to infer the Claimant knew as result
of his status as a Trustee, benefited from insurance cover at the material
time. Following forced closure pursuant to Government guidance on 24
March 2020, the Trust’s insurance cover provided that it was entitled to
compensation for losses suffered resulting from “interference with the
28
Business in consequence of action by the Police or other Competent Local,
Civil, or Military Authority”.
24.3 The Claimant in seeking donations as part of the Covid19 Appeal
dishonestly failed to refer to the fact of the insurance cover enjoyed by the
Trust or the extent to which it would benefit from that cover during the
period covered by the Appeal.
24.4 In all the circumstances the Defendants will contend that it is
substantially true that the Claimant further lied by asking for donations to
feed the animals during the Covid emergency whilst dishonestly concealing
the fact that the Trust was due to receive a large insurance payment,
potentially £500,000.
25. The Second Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at
paragraph 14.10. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial
truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
26. The Third Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph
14.11. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in
relation to the imputation that the Claimant made the untrue statement that he
did not do anything wrong and that he fraudulently raised funds for the
Wildheart Trust on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. It is
substantially true that the Claimant deserved to be dealt with by the Fundraising
Regulator.
26.1 The Fundraising Regulator’s Fundraising Code provides at paragraph 1.3
that “You and the fundraising materials you use must not mislead anyone, or
be likely to mislead anyone, either by leaving out information or by being
inaccurate or ambiguous or by exaggerating details”.
26.2 The statements made by the Claimant for the purposes of fundraising in
relation to the Tigers and/or the Trust set out at paragraphs 16.14 and 24
above in relation to the Tigers and the Trust contravened paragraph 1.3 of
the Fundraising Code, in that they were likely to mislead, were inaccurate,
ambiguous and exaggerated. Paragraphs 16 and 24 are repeated.
27. The Fourth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at
paragraph 14.12. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial
truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
28. The Fifth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph
14.13. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on
the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 19.2.
29
29. The Sixth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph
14.14. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on
the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
30. The Eighth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph
14.15. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on
the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
31. The Further Eighth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at
paragraph 14.16. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial
truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16.
32. The Ninth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph
14.11. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on
the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16
33. If one or more of the imputations complained of is not shown to be substantially
true, the Defendants will to the extent necessary rely on s.2(3) of the
Defamation Act 2013.
Defence under s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013
34. The statements complained of were or formed part of statements on a matter
of public interest:
34.1 Paragraphs 1, 2 and 16.1 above are repeated. The Claimant is a very
prominent public figure.
34.2 The focus of the statements complained of was on the dishonest and
misleading nature of statements made by the Claimant, a high profile and
controversial public figure in the fields of animal rights, conservation and the
environment, in relation to the alleged mistreatment of animals by a Spanish
circus, for fundraising purposes, in relation to a Trust of which he is a Trustee.
34.2.1 Animal rights and welfare generally are a subject of high public
interest, and part of a wider public debate as to conservation and
environmental issues, which has assumed increasing urgency in
recent years.
34.2.2 The appropriateness of the use of animals in circus acts, and their
treatment by circuses in those circumstances, is an important aspect
of the debate around animal rights and welfare.
30
34.2.3 Relative to the public in European countries the British public are
strongly interested in and sympathetic animal rights and welfare
issues.
34.2.4 Fundraising for animal rights causes is often highly emotive and relies
on the emotional pull and photogenic qualities of the animals in
question to elicit public sympathy. This effect is exacerbated by
allegations of abuse or mistreatment of the animals for which funds
are sought to be raised. This is particularly the case where that abuse
or mistreatment is alleged to have taken place (1) for entertainment
purposes at a circus, and (2) in a country where animal rights and
welfare standards are, or are perceived to be, less high than in this
country.
34.2.5 Those who raise funds for charitable trusts, and in particular their
Trustees, are subject to particular responsibilities in relation to such
activities.
34.2.6 Fundraising for charitable purposes, and the effectiveness of
regulation of fundraising activities by the Fundraising Regulator, are
subjects of high public interest.
35. In relation to the publications for which their responsibility is admitted at
paragraph 10 above, the First and Second Defendants reasonably believed that
publishing the statements complained of was in the public interest. Their
respective beliefs arose at the time when the Second Defendant researched and
wrote and the First Defendant edited the First Article, and continued throughout
the process of publication of the relevant statements, on the basis of further
information which came to light.
36. The First and Second Defendant’s belief was a reasonable one taking into
account all of the circumstances of the case:
36.1 The Second Defendant’s investigation into the Claimant was prompted
by the publication by the Claimant of the Appeal Video.
36.1.1 The Second Defendant was suspicious of the Claimant’s claim in the
Appeal Video that animals “rescued” by the Trust were ones which
had endured “horrific conditions throughout the course of their lives”
and of the claim in the Covid19 Appeal that animals at the trust had
been “at the mercy of travelling circuses in Spain” where “these
defenceless animals were the victims of unimaginable neglect and
cruelty living hellish lives confined within squalid beast-wagons or
31
crammed into tiny pens where they were left to fight for scrapes of
food in between performances”.
36.1.2 The Second Defendant was aware of the rehoming by the Trust of
Simi, and contacted Martin Lacey Jr. at Circus Krone in Munich. Mr
Lacey, via his secretary, sent the Second Defendant information
about the seizure of animals from the Las Vegas Circus. The Second
Defendant by this means received the information from the Köllner
Family which is set out at paragraph 17.2.2 above.
36.1.3 The Second Defendant further investigated the rehoming of two
tigers, first, “Julie”, which had been taken from the Köllner Family at
the same time as Simi, and which had been falsely alleged in
reporting to have been abused by the circus, and, second, “Tango”,
a tiger which had been voluntarily given up by its Belgian owner, and
which had also been falsely alleged to have been abused by the
circus.
36.1.4 The Second Defendant investigated the basis for the Claimant’s
public statements about the Tigers, and in particular the
circumstances in which the Tigers had been donated by Circo
Wonderland and re-homed by the Trust.
36.1.5 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the
First Article the Second Defendant considered:
36.1.5.1 the Mirror Article and Mirror Video; and
36.1.5.2 the Transfer Video.
36.1.6 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the
Second Article, the Second Defendant further considered:
36.1.6.1 the Teruel Report; and
36.1.6.2 an electronic message from the Macaggi Family, which
referred to: the donation of the tigers to Primadomus and their
re-homing at the Trust; a visit by a member of the Macaggi Family
to the Tigers at Primadomus (Lucetto Macaggi) when the Tigers
responded very positively to him; and to the falsity of the
allegations by the Trust that the Tigers had been badly treated at
Circo Wonderland.
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36.1.7 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the
Third Article, the Second Defendant further considered the 7
December Video.
36.1.8 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the
Fourth Article, the Second Defendant further considered a video of
the visit by Lucetto Macaggi referred to at paragraph 36.1.6.2 above,
in which the close and loving relationship he enjoyed with them was
obvious.
36.1.9 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the
Fifth Article, the Second Defendant further considered the Letter of
Claim.
36.1.10 In the course of his investigation and for the purposes of writing
the Eighth Article, the Second Defendant considered an External
Reviewer’s decision in relation to his complaint to the Fundraising
Regulator.
36.2 The First Defendant, by considering the Second Defendant’s sources,
verified the product of the Second Defendant’s investigation for the
purposes of the editing, rewriting and publication of each of the Articles
originally prepared by the Second Defendant.
36.3 Following the publication of the First Article, the Second Defendant
complained to the Fundraising Regulator on 6 August 2020 (“the FR
Complaint”). The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of
charitable fundraising in England and Wales and was an appropriate means
by which the First and Second Defendants could challenge the Trust and the
Claimant directly regarding the concerns raised about the Claimant in the
First Article.
36.3.1 The Second Defendant made the FR Complaint on the basis that the
Mirror Article and the Mirror Video falsely claimed in the context of
the Trust’s fundraising activities that the tigers mentioned in the
video had been rescued from horrendous conditions.
36.3.2 The Fundraising Regulator referred the FR Complaint to the Trust on
6 August 2020.
36.3.3 There were written communications between the Second Defendant
and the Chief Operating Officer of the Trust pursuant to the FR
Complaint from 29 September 2020 onwards.
33
36.3.4 The Trust responded to the Fundraising Regulator with reference to
generic concerns about the use of wild animals in circuses and linked
to the Transfer Video.
36.3.5 On 26 October 2020, the Fundraising Regulator replied to the Second
Defendant saying that it had decided that there was insufficient
evidence to show a breach of the code that would require an
investigation.
36.3.6 The Second Defendant made further representations. In response,
the Fundraising Regulator wrote to him on 8 December 2020 to tell
him that it was starting an investigation.
36.3.7 The First and Second Defendants published the Third Article on 12
December 2020 and considered the Fundraising Regulator’s
response for the purposes of its writing and publication.
36.3.8 On 19 December 2020 the Daily Mail published a story about the
Claimant and the Trust.
36.3.9 The First and Second Defendants published the Fourth Article on 23
December 2020.
36.3.10 The Fundraising Regulator found in a decision published on 21
May 2021 that the Trust’s assertions, based on its view of the facts
and research, although arguably expressed rather sweepingly with a
touch of hyperbole, were not misleading or likely to mislead in
relation to the fundraising ask.
36.3.11 On 12 December 2021, the Fundraising Regulator published an
external review of its decision. While expressing reservations about
the Trust’s claim to rescue animals from Spanish circuses, the
External Reviewer did not find that the test for full external review
was met.
36.3.12 Following the publication of the outcome of the Fundraising
Regulator’s external review, the First and Second Defendants added
an update, reporting on the outcome in critical terms, to the Third
Article.
36.3.13 The extensive engagement of the Second Defendant with the
Fundraising Regulator, and via the Fundraising Regulator with the
Claimant, is a relevant circumstance for the purposes of the First and
Second Defendants’ defence under s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013.
34
36.4 Each of the publications for which the First and Second Defendants’
responsibility is admitted at paragraph 10 above was published in response
to public statements by the Claimant or to developments in the Second
Defendant’s investigation into the basis for the Claimant’s public
statements, including the involvement of the Fundraising Regulator.
36.5 Each of the Articles contained the Claimant’s side of the story, or its gist,
including developments in his position as the Second Defendant’s
investigation progressed:
36.5.1 the First Article linked to the Appeal Video;
36.5.2 the Second Article:
36.5.2.1 linked to the Appeal Video, the Mirror Article, and the
Mirror Video; and
36.5.2.2 included a detailed response from the Trust (“the Trust
Response”) in relation to an inquiry relating to the allegations
that the Claimant had been dishonest, which set out the
Claimant’s position, to the extent that he was prepared to
provide it.
36.5.3 the Third Article linked to the 7 December Video, which set out the
Claimant’s position in relation to the allegation of dishonesty, to the
extent that he was prepared to provide it, and was updated by
reference to the decision of the Fundraising Regulator’s External
Reviewer in December 2021;
36.5.4 the Fourth Article linked to the Covid19 Appeal;
36.5.5 the Fifth Article linked to the full text of the Letter of Claim;
36.5.6 the Sixth Article linked to the Fundraising Regulator’s Decision;
36.5.7 the Seventh Article linked to the Sixth Article and by that means to
the Fundraising Regulator’s Decision;
36.5.8 the First Video referred to the Claimant’s account of the
mistreatment and rescuing of the Tigers;
36.5.9 the Second Video referred to the Claimant’s account of the
mistreatment and rescuing of the Tigers;
35
36.5.10 the Eighth Article linked to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth
Articles;
36.5.11 the Ninth Article linked to the Covid19 Appeal; and
36.5.12 the Second to Ninth Article Tweets linked to the relevant articles.
36.6 As a publisher, CSM has always made clear, including within the Articles
complained of themselves, that it is eager to receive and publish right of
reply responses to its publication, including from those on opposing sides of
any debate which it covers. In the Fifth Article, the First Defendant expressly
invited the Claimant to provide his “side of the tiger tale in his own words”.
36.7 In all the circumstances, and in the exercise of their editorial judgment,
the First and Second Defendants have shown that the statements
complained of were, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public
interest; and that they reasonably believed that publishing the statements
complained of was in the public interest.
DAMAGE
37. The Claimant is required to prove paragraph 17.
REMEDIES
38. The Claimant’s entitlement to damages including aggravated damages as
pleaded at paragraph 18 is in the circumstances denied. As to the Particulars of
Aggravation pleaded at paragraph 18:
38.1 The Claimant is required to prove that the publications set out at
paragraph 18.1, which were substantially published to readers of CSM or
followers of its social media output, caused any significant additional injury
to the Claimant’s feelings beyond any caused by the publications complained
of.
38.2 The Defendants will rely on the lengthy list of further publications
complained of in respect of the Claimant’s plea of aggravation in support of
their contention that the Claimant’s approach to these proceedings has been
repetitious, disproportionate and oppressive and has served needlessly to
increase their costs and complexity. Paragraph 4 above is repeated.
38.3 The publications at paragraph 18.1.1 to 18.1.6 and the First Defendant’s
responsibility for them are admitted.
36
38.4 As to paragraph 18.1.8, it is denied that any of the Defendants is
responsible for the crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund”, which
was set up by third parties to crowdfund the Defendants’ defence of these
proceedings. The Defendants will contend that any criticism by the Claimant
of the Defendants’ benefiting from crowdfunding, or of the conduct and
publications of the Defendants’ supporters is an example of rank hypocrisy
and is fundamentally objectionable in view of:
38.4.1 The Claimant’s own extensive use of crowd-funding, including in
support of the Trust.
38.4.2 The Claimant and/or his solicitors’ successful removal of the
crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund” after two and a half
hours.
38.4.3 The threatening and harassing conduct of the Claimant’s supporters
towards the Defendants, including death threats made to the First
Defendant, which have resulted in reports to the Police.
38.4.4 The threatening and harassing conduct of the Claimant’s supporters
towards the Defendants’ solicitors in these proceedings, including
by: tagging them without justification in publications on Twitter, and
sending emails to the Defendants’ solicitors asking questions about
the case, criticising the First Defendant, and threatening without
justification to report the firm to the SRA. This conduct commenced
very shortly after their instruction, on 22 March 2022. The Court will
be asked to infer that such conduct is an attempt to interfere with
the administration of justice in these proceedings, carried out by the
Claimant’s supporters on his behalf.
38.5 As to the audio message of the First Defendant referred to at paragraph
18.1.7:
38.5.1 The pleaded content of the audio message is admitted.
38.5.2 The audio message was published as a rallying call to friends and
supporters by the First Defendant in response to the removal of the
crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund”, and was published
on a private Facebook Group. To the extent necessary, the First
Defendant will contend that the audio message was published on an
occasion of qualified privilege, in that: it was in the First Defendant’s
interest to communicate to those who might support his and the
Second and Third Defendants’ defence in these proceedings, and all
37
those who heard the words spoken by him had a corresponding and
legitimate interest in receiving it. The publication of the audio
message was reasonable in all the circumstances and its
dissemination went no wider than was necessary to inform those
interests.
38.5.3 The First Defendant denies that he was responsible for the
republication of the audio message on the public “Countryside
Capers” Facebook Group, or that this republication was reasonably
foreseeable.
39. Except that the Claimant is required to prove his emotional attachment to his
CBE, paragraph 18.2 is admitted.
40. As to paragraph 18.3:
40.1 The first sentence is admitted.
40.2 The second sentence is not admitted.
41. As to paragraph 18.4, except that it is admitted that the First Defendant referred
to the Claimant’s Asperger’s syndrome, this paragraph is denied:
41.1 In the First Video and the Seventh Article, the First Defendant asked
whether it is “really OK to blame your obvious nastiness on Asperger’s when
in reality you’re just a little bully?”. This is a reference to the Claimant
publicly attributing his admittedly difficult and anti-social behaviour to
Asperger’s syndrome.
41.2 In the Second Video, the First Defendant referred to the Claimant having
“already played the Asperger’s card”. This was a reference to the Claimant
not being entitled to rely on Asperger’s syndrome as a basis for misleading
the public.
41.3 In the Eighth Article, the First Defendant said that the BBC “know full well
by now the Asperger’s ‘victim’ card is no longer a get out of jail free card”.
This was a reference to the Claimant not being entitled to rely on Asperger’s
syndrome as a basis for misleading the public.
42. It is denied that paragraph 18.5 is capable of amounting to a particular of
aggravation:
38
42.1 The Letter of Claim set out the Claimant’s position in these proceedings
to the extent he was prepared to provide it, and there is no legal basis to
restrain or complain of the publication of such a letter.
42.2 The Claimant’s position is that he has not been dishonest or misleading,
and he therefore has nothing to fear from a call for evidence against him.
43. Paragraph 18.6 is denied. Publications which followed the Letter of Claim were
updates to the Second Defendant’s investigation and not acts of retaliation.
44. Paragraph 18.7 is denied. Neither the First Defendant nor any of his colleagues
have sent an email sent to Wild Justice.
45. Paragraph 18.8 is admitted.
46. The Claimant is required to prove paragraph 18.9.
Mitigation of damage
47. The Defendants will rely in mitigation of damages on directly relevant
background context in relation to the Claimant’s conduct, pursuant to the
principles articulated by the Court of Appeal in Burstein v Times Newspapers
Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 579. The Defendants will rely on the following facts and
matters in this regard:
PARTICULARS
47.1 The knowingly false statements for which the Claimant was responsible
relating to the circumstances surrounding the unlawful seizure of Simi,
which led to her re-homing by the Trust, which were intended by the
Claimant to elicit media interest in and promote the Trust and his fundraising
efforts on its behalf.
47.1.1 Paragraph 17.2 above is repeated.
47.1.2 The Claimant made the following public statements regarding Simi’s
alleged mistreatment:
47.1.2.1 On the Claimant’s website at www.chrispackham.co.uk,
on 27 May 2016, the Claimant published an article by Ms Corney
headlined “News From Isle of Wight Zoo” which referred to Simi
as having been “abused by humans for 8 years” (“the News
Article”). The News Article included a reference to the Zoo’s
funding difficulties and need to raise money. The Defendants will
contend that the Claimant was responsible as a matter of fact and
39
a matter of law for the News Article and the statements it
contained as the editor or publisher of his website.
47.1.2.2 On or around 26 April 2018, the Isle of Wight County
Press, as part of publicity surrounding the JustGiving Appeal,
reported that “Simi's life at the zoo has transformed her into a
calm, confident and friendly tiger following her life as an ill-
treated circus animal”. The Court will be asked to infer that this
was a report of information given to the newspaper by the
Claimant or on his behalf for publication.
47.1.2.3 In the Appeal Video, the Claimant said “At the Wildheart
Trust we rescue emotionally and physically broken animals,
principally big cats from European circuses. Animals that have
endured horrific conditions throughout their lives”.
47.1.3 The Claimant knew that Simi had not been abused or mistreated, and
had not endured horrific conditions throughout her life, and that her
seizure was unlawful. Paragraph 17.2.5 above is repeated.
47.1.4 The Defendants will rely on the Claimant’s knowingly false and
dishonest statements in relation to Simi, who he knew had not been
abused or mistreated by the Köllner Family, made for or
predominantly for fundraising purposes, in mitigation of damages.
47.2 The knowingly false public statements for which the Claimant was
responsible relating to the circumstances surrounding purported death
threats made against him, which were intended by the Claimant to elicit
media interest in, and public sympathy and support, including financial
support, for Wild Justice and the Claimant’s campaigning on environmental
issues.
47.2.1 On 24 April 2019, following a legal challenge by Wild Justice, Natural
England announced that it would revoke General Licences 04, 05 and
06 for controlling wild birds from the following day.
47.2.2 The revocation of General Licences 04, 05 and 06 was highly
contentious and provoked a backlash in the form of extremely
negative responses from farmers and others involved in conservation
and work with the land.
47.2.3 On 29 April 2019 the Claimant told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire
Programme that he had received a death threat in the form of a letter
(“the Death Threat Letter”), and that this was intended to elicit fear
40
and intimidate him in response to the successful Wild Justice
campaign.
47.2.4 The Death Threat Letter was handwritten. A comparison of the
handwriting in the Death Threat Letter with samples of the
Claimant’s own handwriting by experts, including by an experienced
forensic document examiner, indicates that the Death Threat Letter
is likely to have been written by the Claimant.
47.2.5 The Defendants will rely on the Claimant’s knowingly false and
dishonest statements about the Death Threat Letter, which the
Claimant knew was not a genuine threat or act of intimidation, and
the fact that these false statements were made in order to or
predominantly in order to elicit public sympathy and support,
including financial support, for Wild Justice and the Claimant’s
campaigning on environmental issues, in mitigation of damages.
Injunction
48. As to paragraph 19:
48.1 As to the first sentence it is denied for the reasons set out above that the
Claimant is entitled to an injunction against the First and Second Defendants.
48.2 As to the second sentence, in view of the objections of the Defendants
and the disapproval of the Court set out at paragraph 4 above, the Claimant
should not pursue any purported right to amend his claim to include further
publications.
Further remedies
49. As to paragraphs 20 and 21, it is denied that the Claimant is entitled to the relief
claimed or any relief.
GERVASE DE WILDE
5RB, Gray’s Inn
8 April 2022
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I, the First Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I understand
that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or
41
causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth
without an honest belief in its truth.
Signed: ………………………..
Dated: ………………………....
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I, the Second Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I
understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who
makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement
of truth without an honest belief in its truth.
Signed: ………………………..
Dated: ………………………....
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I, the Third Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I
understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who
makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement
of truth without an honest belief in its truth.
Signed: ………………………..
Dated: ………………………....

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DEFENCE PDF

  • 1. 1 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE Claim No QB-2021-001227 QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS LIST BETWEEN: CHRIS PACKHAM CBE Claimant -and- (1) DOMINIC WIGHTMAN (2) NIGEL BEAN (3) PAUL READ Defendants _________________________ AMENDED DEFENCE _________________________ By way of substitution for: the Defence of the First Defendant dated 15 July 2021; the Defence of the Second Defendant dated 19 July 2021; and the Defence of the Third Defendant dated 15 July 2021 Paragraph references are to paragraphs in the Re-Amended Particulars of Claim dated 24 March 2022 PARTIES AND BACKGROUND 1. As to paragraph 1: 1.1 The first sentence is admitted. 1.2 The second sentence is admitted. Except for his status as a trustee of the Trust, the list of Presidencies, Vice-Presidencies, and patronages of little known organisations held by the Claimant is wholly irrelevant to the issues in this action. The Defendants reserve the right to rely on this gratuitously lengthy list as an example of the disproportionate, oppressive and needlessly costly manner in which the Claimant has chosen to pursue this claim.
  • 2. 2 1.3 The Trust runs the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary on the Isle of Wight, a private zoo owned and run by the Claimant’s girlfriend Charlotte Corney. The Claimant is involved in the Trust, in that he: 1.3.1 has been a Trustee of the Trust since 19 May 2016, in which capacity the Charity Commission’s Guidance says that it is important to be aware of the laws that apply to regulated activities such as fundraising; 1.3.2 is said on the Trust’s website to be someone who “champions its cause”; 1.3.3 raises funds for the Trust; and 1.3.4 is effectively the high profile public face of the Trust. 1.4 The third and fourth sentences are admitted. 1.5 The Claimant maintains a Twitter account with the username @ChrisGPackham and the handle “Chris Packham” (“the Claimant’s Twitter Account”). The Claimant’s Twitter Account is subject to “blue tick” verification by Twitter. 2. The Claimant is a highly controversial and polarising figure in the British countryside and within the wider conservation movement, including as a result of the following: 2.1 The Claimant’s active and high profile support, including via the Claimant’s Twitter Account, for the anti-blood sport charity The League Against Cruel Sports (“the LACS”). 2.2 The Claimant’s role as one of three Directors of strategic litigation company Wild Justice, which instructs the same solicitors as those used by the Claimant in these proceedings, and which has been used by the Claimant to promote his position in these proceedings. Wild Justice is most well-known for the following legal claims, which have had, or have been intended to have, a very wide-ranging impact on the management of the British countryside: 2.2.1 A successful legal challenge, via Natural England’s General Licensing system, to the status of bird species which can be shot as “pests” if they are believed to be damaging crops.
  • 3. 3 2.2.2 A successful legal challenge to the status of non-native game birds, which it has compelled the government to have re-classified as pest species. 2.2.3 An unsuccessful legal challenge to the Heather and Grass Burning (England) Regulations 2021. 3. Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 are admitted. PUBLICATIONS 4. The Defendants plead to the Claimant’s case on publication entirely without prejudice to their right to rely in relation to the costs of these proceedings on the repetitious, disproportionate and misconceived approach taken by the Claimant to his claim in defamation: 4.1 19 separate publications are pleaded, of which 17 publish the same or substantially the same allegation, being that, as held at [33] in the Court’s judgment on the Preliminary Issues in these proceedings, ([2022] EWHC 482 (QB) (Johnson J) (“the TPI Judgment”)) the Claimant dishonestly raised funds from the public by stating that tigers had been rescued from a circus where they had been mis-treated, whereas in fact (as the Claimant knew) the tigers had been well-treated and had been donated by the circus. 4.2 The benefit to the Claimant by way of damages or vindication if his claim succeeds in relation to all 19 publications, as opposed to a single publication or a representative sample of the publications, is extremely limited. The Claimant’s approach to the proceedings has, however, served to needlessly increase costs. 4.3 The Claimant’s disproportionate approach to the scope and costs of these proceedings is further demonstrated by the following: 4.3.1 The Claimant’s attempt to seek the Court’s approval for a costs budget for the Preliminary Issues Trial of almost double the figure at which the parties’ expenditure for such a hearing is typically capped. This inflated budget was not approved by the Court, on the basis of an Order of Master Dagnall dated 31 December 2021. The Claimant’s budget was ultimately approved at less than the figure at which the parties’ expenditure for a Preliminary Issues Trial is typically capped, meaning that the costs incurred in the budgeting process were unnecessary.
  • 4. 4 4.3.2 The Claimant’s unnecessary use of two junior counsel in the proceedings, including for a half day hearing without evidence against unrepresented defendants. 4.4 The Defendants were until 16 March 2022 unrepresented in these proceedings, and are sued personally, with no claim brought against CSM, the publisher of the Articles complained of. 4.5 The Defendants believe that the Claimant’s lawyers are acting pursuant to a “No Win No Fee” agreement, which has encouraged them to inflate and seek the Court’s approval for higher than usual costs. 4.6 The Defendants raised the issue of the extensive and gratuitous costs caused by the Claimant’s approach in submissions to the Court in relation to the Claimant’s costs budget for the TPI by letter dated 9 December 2021. They did so again, prior to the pleading of this Defence, by email on 24 March 2022, when the Claimant’s response failed to engage with the issue of the disproportionate and costly nature of the Claimant’s approach. 4.7 The Defendants will ask the Court to have regard to the principles relating to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPS”) articulated by the ECHR in OOO Memo v Russia [2022] ECHR 229, and in particular the “intimidating effect” of such claims, which is “often achieved by rendering the legal proceedings expensive and time-consuming” in circumstances where there is a “power imbalance between the plaintiff and the defendant”. The Court will be asked to infer that, in the absence of any proper explanation for his approach to the proceedings, the Claimant has adopted it in a manner which is calculated to intimidate the Defendants in order to restrict their legitimate criticisms of the Claimant, and to obfuscate rather than clarify the issues in dispute between the parties. 4.8 The Court has alluded at [38] in the TPI Judgment to the “overlap” between the meanings and the scope “for closely defining the issues”. The Claimant failed to take these comments into account in re-amending his Particulars of Claim. If the Claimant does not now significantly revise his approach to these proceedings on a consensual basis, the Defendants will rely on the contentions in this paragraph in relation to the costs of the proceedings as a whole, in addition to the costs incurred to date. 5. Paragraph 6 is admitted only insofar as the Claimant’s particularised case on publication is admitted by the Defendants in their response to paragraphs 7 to 13. 6. Paragraph 7 is admitted.
  • 5. 5 6.1 As to the extent of publication of the Articles, the First and Second Defendants plead as follows in relation to the extent of publication (by number of page views, rather than unique users) as at 27 March 2022: 6.1.1 First: 2084 6.1.2 Second: 47,250 6.1.3 Third: 12,371 6.1.4 Fourth: 66,935 6.1.5 Fifth: 4678 6.1.6 Sixth: 1464 6.1.7 Seventh: 8068 6.1.8 Eighth: 16,128 6.1.9 Ninth: 2088 6.2 As to the extent of publication of the Videos, as at 27 March 2022, the First Video had received 5953 views, and the Second Video 2885 views. 7. Paragraph 8 is noted. 8. As to paragraph 9: 8.1 As to paragraphs 9.1 to 9.10: 8.1.1 The publication and content of the Tweets in this paragraph are admitted. 8.1.2 As at 27 March 2022 8.1.2.1 the Second Article Tweet had received 12844 impressions; 8.1.2.2 the Third Article Tweet had received 17158 impressions; 8.1.2.3 the Fourth Article Tweet had received 8190 impressions; 8.1.2.4 the Fifth Article Tweet had received 24919 impressions;
  • 6. 6 8.1.2.5 the Sixth Article Tweet had received 3375 impressions; 8.1.2.6 the Video Tweet had received 21352 impressions; 8.1.2.7 the Seventh Article Tweet had received 15502 impressions; 8.1.2.8 the Eighth Article Tweet had received 40470 impressions; 8.1.2.9 the Further Eighth Article Tweet had received 3708 impressions; 8.1.2.10 the Ninth Article Tweet had received 5791 impressions. 8.1.3 As to the Claimant’s contention that each of the Article and Video Tweets in this paragraph contained a link to the respective Articles and Videos, thereby further publishing the Articles and Videos to those who followed the link from the tweet: 8.1.3.1 The First Defendant does not know the extent of publication, if any, of the Articles and Videos which is derived from the availability of links to them on Twitter, and does not believe that it is possible to obtain this information. 8.1.3.2 The First Defendant is liable as the publisher of the Articles and Videos for the full extent of the views they received in any event, and it is therefore irrelevant whether or not they were further published via the Tweets in this paragraph. 8.1.3.3 To the extent the Claimant persists in advancing this case, or it is relevant to liability or damages, the Claimant is required to prove the extent of further publication via the Tweets. 9. Paragraph 10 is admitted. 10. As to paragraph 11: 10.1 Paragraph 11.1 is admitted insofar as relevant; the First Defendant is responsible as editor/publisher for the Articles published on CSM complained of in these proceedings, and as publisher of the Tweets on the CSM Twitter Account complained of in these proceedings. 10.2 Paragraph 11.2 is admitted. 10.3 As to paragraph 11.3:
  • 7. 7 10.3.1 It is admitted that the First to Fourth Articles were published by each of the First and Second Defendants because each of them was directly involved in the editorial process as author, editor, or publisher. 10.3.2 The contention that the First to Fourth Articles were published by the Third Defendant is denied: 10.3.2.1 The Third Defendant’s role in the publication of each of the Articles was strictly limited to that of proof-reading for spelling and grammar mistakes, and he had no involvement whatsoever in the editorial content. 10.3.2.2 The shared by-line listing the Third Defendant as an author of the First to Fourth Articles solely reflected his proof- reading role. The shared by-line has been removed. 10.3.2.3 The Claimant will be invited to amend or not pursue this aspect of his claim against the Third Defendant, or any claim against him. 10.4 Paragraph 11.4 is admitted. 10.5 As to paragraph 11.5: 10.5.1 This is admitted to the extent that: 10.5.1.1 the First Defendant was involved in the editorial process as editor and publisher; and 10.5.1.2 the Second Defendant was involved in the editorial process as author. 10.5.2 If it is alleged, it is denied that the Second or Third Defendants have any role as editor or publisher of content on CSM. 10.6 As to paragraph 11.6, paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 above are repeated. 11. As to paragraph 12: 11.1 Paragraph 12.1 is admitted. 11.2 As to paragraph 12.2:
  • 8. 8 11.2.1 Paragraph 12.2 is admitted. 11.2.2 Paragraph 12.2.1 is admitted. 11.2.3 As to paragraph 12.2.2: 11.2.3.1 The Second Defendant is liable as the author of the Second, Third, and Ninth Articles for the full extent of the views they received in any event, and it is therefore irrelevant whether or not they were further published via the Tweets in this paragraph. 11.2.3.2 To the extent the Claimant persists in advancing this case in respect of the Second, Third, and Ninth Articles, or it is relevant to liability or damages, the Claimant is required to prove the extent of further publication via the Tweets. 11.2.3.3 As to publication of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Articles and the First Video via the Article Tweets: 11.2.3.3.1 At common law, there is no basis in light of the content of the Tweets for an inference that the ordinary reasonable reader would have to follow the hyperlink to the relevant Articles or videos in order to make sense of what was being said, and the Second Defendant is therefore not liable for republication at common law. 11.2.3.3.2 Pursuant to s.10 of the Defamation Act 2013, the Second Defendant is not the “author, editor or publisher” of these publications, and the Court therefore does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine the Claimant’s action for defamation against him in respect of them. 11.2.4 As to Paragraph 12.2.3: 11.2.4.1 The Second Defendant does not know the extent of publication of the Second Video via the tweet at paragraph 10.4. 11.2.4.2 This paragraph is admitted, entirely without prejudice to (i) the right of the Second Defendant to apply to strike out this contention under the jurisdiction in Jameel v Dow Jones & Co Inc [2005] QB 946 in the event that the publication which took place did not amount to a real and substantial tort, and (ii) to rely on
  • 9. 9 the inclusion of this publication in respect of the contentions as to proportionality and costs set out at paragraph 4 above. 11.3 As to paragraph 12.3: 11.3.1 Paragraph 12.3 is denied. Paragraph 10.3.2 above is repeated. In relation to the First to Fourth Articles: the Third Defendant is not liable at common law as author and/or editor; and further or alternatively pursuant to s.10 of the Defamation Act 2013, the Third Defendant is not the “author, editor or publisher” of these publications, and the Court therefore does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine the Claimant’s action for defamation against him in respect of them. 11.3.2 Paragraph 12.3.1 is denied. The Third Defendant will seek to strike out this aspect of the claim under the jurisdiction in Jameel v Dow Jones & Co Inc, including on the basis that: any publication which took place did not amount to a real and substantial tort; the Tweets which were Retweeted by the Second Defendant are themselves already the subject of the Claimant’s claim against the First Defendant in these proceedings; and, the Claimant’s claim against the Third Defendant over these publications is, in all the circumstances, not worth the candle. 11.3.3 Paragraph 12.3.2 is denied. The contentions at paragraph 11.2.3.3 are repeated in respect of the purported publication by the Third Defendant via the Article Tweets and the First Video Tweet of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Articles, the First Video, and by the Seventh Article also the First Video. 12. As to paragraph 13: 12.1.1 The first sentence is denied. By letter dated 2 April 2021, the Third Defendant informed the Claimant that his role is limited to proof- reading and that he has “zero input in the content” of the Second Defendant’s work. This does not amount to an admission of editorial input. 12.1.2 The second sentence is noted. Paragraphs 10.3.2 and 11.3.1 above are repeated. 12.1.3 As to the third sentence:
  • 10. 10 12.1.3.1 the Third Defendant’s responsibility for the publication of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Article Tweets via Retweets is admitted, however, it is denied that this gives rise to a viable claim for defamation against him, as to which paragraph 11.3.2 above is repeated; 12.1.3.2 the Third Defendant’s responsibility for the publication of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Articles and the First Video as set out at paragraphs 11.6 and12.3 is denied, as to which paragraph 11.3.3 above is repeated. 12.1.3.3 The Defendants reserve the right to rely upon the Claimant’s insistence on including the Third Defendant in these proceedings (even in his Re-Amended Particulars of Claim) in relation to the contentions on proportionality and costs pleaded at paragraph 4 above. MEANING 13. Paragraph 14 is admitted. EXTENT OF PUBLICATION 14. As to paragraph 15: 14.1 Paragraph 15 is admitted to the extent that publication in respect of the individual publications complained of is admitted below and/or the Defendants’ case is proved at trial on the basis of evidence following disclosure. 14.2 Paragraphs 15.1 to 15.3 are admitted. As to the First Article Tweet, the Defendants cannot identify this Tweet, and no longer have access to information about it (if it existed) via the CSM Twitter Account. 14.3 As to paragraph 15.4: 14.3.1 The “estimated number of interactions on Twitter” with the Second, Fourth and Fifth Article Tweets is not admitted and the Claimant is required to prove this aspect of his case on publication. The Defendants do not know the number of impressions received by the First Article Tweet. As to the impressions received by the Second, Fourth and Fifth Article Tweets, paragraph 8.1.2 above is repeated.
  • 11. 11 14.4 As to paragraphs 15.5, 15.6 and 15.7 it is denied that the facts and matters in these paragraphs are a basis for the inference of substantial publication, and the Claimant’s purported reliance on them is embarrassing. The Defendants will rely upon the following features of Twitter in support of their contention that tagging another Twitter account’s username within a Tweet (“a Mention”) does not have any impact on the number of impressions received by that Tweet: 14.4.1 According to Twitter’s “Help Center” a Mention appears: on the sender’s profile page, in the recipient’s notification page, and in the timeline of anyone on Twitter following the sender of a Mention. 14.4.2 All five of the accounts mentioned are corporate or organisation level accounts. 14.4.3 A Mention which tags the Twitter Account of a company or organisation may result in the individual responsible for monitoring the relevant account seeing the Tweet which contains it, but it will not in itself cause further publication of the Tweet, regardless of the number of followers of the account mentioned. 14.4.4 The detailed contentions as to the followers of the accounts mentioned are, in the circumstances, irrelevant and the Defendants do not plead to them. 14.5 As to paragraph 15.8: 14.5.1 The contention that the Articles and the First Video “have been widely shared on Facebook” is too vague to plead to. 14.5.2 It is admitted that the Articles and the First Video have been shared by CSM’s Facebook account, and that this account is operated by the First Defendant. 14.5.3 Paragraphs 15.9 and 15.10 are admitted. Serious harm 15. Paragraph 16 is admitted. DEFENCES Substantial Truth
  • 12. 12 16. The First and Second Articles in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.1 are substantially true for the purposes of s.2 of the Defamation Act 2013. PARTICULARS 16.1 The Claimant enjoys a privileged position as a BBC presenter: 16.1.1 As contended in the third sentence of paragraph 1, the Claimant is very well-known for his work on television as a presenter of the “Springwatch”, “Autumnwatch”, and “Winterwatch” television series, and other natural history programmes. 16.1.2 The Claimant’s work for the BBC has led to him being extremely recognisable amongst the public at large, and particularly amongst that section of the public with an interest in conservation, animal welfare, and the British countryside. 16.1.3 The BBC is the country’s national broadcaster, which is established by Royal Charter, which is subject to highly restrictive Editorial Standards, which are focused on impartiality and editorial integrity. 16.1.4 The Claimant, like all high-profile BBC presenters, benefits from his association with the organisation and its standards and values, as well as the availability of its content in the majority of the country’s homes. 16.1.5 The Claimant’s privileged position as a BBC presenter is demonstrated by the value of his support for a number of otherwise niche or controversial causes, which has led to them receiving greater publicity than they would otherwise. These, relevantly, include the following: 16.1.5.1 Sweeping changes to the regulation and management of the country’s native and non-native game birds achieved by Wild Justice. Paragraph 2.2 above is repeated. 16.1.5.2 Vehement opposition to the keeping of animals in circuses, and campaigning for its abolition, notwithstanding the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence to the effect that the practice is not inherently harmful. 16.2 The tigers which were the subject of the Claimant’s fundraising statements were part of “Circo Wonderland”, a circus owned and run by Ringo Macaggi and his family (“the Macaggi Family”) which operates
  • 13. 13 predominantly in Spain. In around 2015 Circo Wonderland had eight big cats, being seven tigers and one lion (“the Circus Big Cats”). During their time at Circo Wonderland: 16.2.1 The majority of the Circus Big Cats had been born in captivity, were brought up by the Macaggi family from birth, and had never lived in the wild. 16.2.2 The seven tigers, especially when young, were taken for swims in rivers and the sea when it was possible to do so. 16.2.3 The Circus Big Cats were healthy and happy, and spent the majority of their time in a large enclosure which had food, water, toys, climbing apparatus and plenty of shade. 16.2.4 Circo Wonderland did not merely comply with, but surpassed the relevant Spanish regulations for the care and maintenance of the Circus Big Cats. 16.2.5 The Circus Big Cats were treated by the Macaggi Family as well-loved family pets, as well as being a valued part of Circo Wonderland’s attractions. Ringo Macaggi in particular enjoyed a very close relationship with them. 16.3 In around 2015: 16.3.1 Circo Wonderland found travelling and performing with the Circus Big Cats increasingly difficult, in light of the different legal and regulatory regimes in place in different regions of Spain, and increasing public concern about the use of such animals by circuses, notwithstanding the lack of any scientific basis for such concern. 16.3.2 Circo Wonderland could have sold the Circus Big Cats for significant sums. Had it done so, the Macaggi Family would not have had any control over the animals’ fate, and they may have been poorly treated, or killed for their skins. 16.3.3 In light of their concerns for the fate of the Circus Big Cats, the Macaggi family sought the assistance of a specialist Spanish animal rights lawyer, Raquel Lopez Teruel, in order to find a suitable destination for them. 16.4 Between 2015 and 2017, working with the Macaggi Family, Ms Teruel, in an effort to re-home the Circus Big Cats:
  • 14. 14 16.4.1 approached numerous animal sanctuaries within and outside Spain; 16.4.2 contacted Animal Advocacy and Protection (“AAP”), an international animal welfare organisation based in Holland, with centres both in Holland and a centre named “Primadomus” at Villena, in Spain (“Primadomus”); and 16.4.3 negotiated between Circo Wonderland and AAP for the animals to be re-homed at Primadomus. 16.5 Primadomus was chosen by the Macaggi Family and Ms Teruel for a number of reasons, including: 16.5.1 its location in Spain, where the Macaggi Family could visit the animals; 16.5.2 the ability of AAP to take all of the animals together in one place, without needing to divide them into a number of different locations; 16.5.3 that Primadomus offered excellent facilities for the Circus Big Cats, including ample space and swimming pools; and 16.5.4 that Primadomus staff are trained in animal welfare and the person in charge of big cats’ welfare, Pablo Delgado, is particularly knowledgeable about this issue. 16.6 After Circo Wonderland’s decision to re-home the Circus Big Cats, from on or around 16 September 2016 the animals were temporarily held at the privately run Núcleo Zoológico Petit Parc at Guardamar del Segura, Alicante (“the Guardamar Zoo”). The Guardamar Zoo was recommended by the Spanish Nature Protection Service (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza, “SEPRONA”) to the Macaggi Family. At the Guardamar Zoo: 16.6.1 there were not adequate facilities for the Circus Big Cats and they were not cared for properly; and 16.6.2 as a result of the inadequate care provided to them, the health condition of the Circus Big Cats deteriorated. 16.7 The Macaggi Family visited the Circus Big Cats at the Guardamar Zoo and were unhappy with the conditions there. As a result, the Macaggi Family renewed their efforts to find them a suitable permanent home.
  • 15. 15 16.8 On 21 September 2017, the Circus Big Cats were taken from the Guardamar Zoo to Primadomus by AAP and the Macaggi Family. 16.9 AAP made a video documenting the transfer, which was published on its website, and on YouTube on or around 10 October (“the Transfer Video”). In the Transfer Video: 16.9.1 David Van Gennep of AAP confirms that what is being documented is a “friendly transfer” which is taking place because a circus decided to stop putting on performances with wild animals, which is described in positive terms as “an incredible development”. 16.9.2 Ringo Macaggi of Circo Wonderland describes how the circus had raised its tigers from when they were little, and how some of them lived in his home. He later distinguishes between genuinely “wild” animals and those which have been born in a circus and kept as pets. 16.9.3 There is footage showing the Guardamar Zoo, which is said to be where the Circus Big Cats have been left following the decision by Circo Wonderland no longer to perform with them. 16.9.4 Ringo Macaggi complains of the difficulties in re-homing the Circus Big Cats, in light of the prohibitions imposed on performing with them. 16.9.5 Ringo Macaggi makes clear that the Circus Big Cats could have been sold for €2-3000 each, but that this would not have been a positive outcome for them because they would have been killed for their skins. 16.9.6 Ringo Macaggi explains that: the donation is taking place because the Macaggi Family love the animals, and want to have a clean conscience; and that the Macaggi Family know that the animals will be well-treated. 16.9.7 David Van Gennep explains that the Circus Big Cats have suffered from the unsatisfactory facilities at the Guardamar Zoo because of the attempts by Circo Wonderland to re-home rather than sell the animals. 16.9.8 Circo Wonderland is said to have arranged the transfer to Primadomus.
  • 16. 16 16.10 After negotiating and facilitating the donation of the Circus Big Cats to AAP, Ms Teruel wrote and published her case notes on her firm’s website on 21 September 2017 under the heading “EL CIRCO WONDERLAND HACE HISTORIA, entrega 7 Tigres y 1 León” (“the Teruel Report”). The Defendants will rely on a translation of the Teruel Report, which, in addition to setting out the history above, records as follows: 16.10.1 One of the tigers “Zoppa”, which was lame, had suffered from this issue since her birth five years previously, and had never worked in a show at Circo Wonderland, but had nevertheless been cared for and fed by the Macaggi Family throughout her life. 16.10.2 Having collaborated closely with Circo Wonderland, Ms Teruel was pleasantly surprised by their approach to the animals and this made a surprisingly positive impression on her. 16.10.3 The Spanish state had failed to assist in re-homing animals such as the Circus Big Cats, notwithstanding widespread prohibitions on circus animals. 16.10.4 The donation of the Circus Big Cats was a historic event, since Circo Wonderland is one of the largest circuses in Spain and had decided to donate all of the animals to a sanctuary. 16.11 AAP offers curators and animal managers of zoos, permanent care sanctuaries, safari parks, and wildlife parks the opportunity to become an “outplacement partner” by offering a permanent home to its animals. 16.12 In a video entitled “Bob Books visits The Wildheart Trust” filmed with Ms Corney in early 2018 and published on YouTube on 7 March 2018 (“the Wildheart Trust Video”), Ms Corney refers to the prospect of the Wildheart Trust becoming an outplacement partner for AAP in relation to some of the Circus Big Cats. 16.12.1 At 0:50 in the Wildheart Trust Video Ms Corney says: “We are now very well positioned to bring in additional cats and we’re currently building a new rescue facility. And we’re looking at two sets of cats that are currently in a rescue centre in Spain having been voluntarily handed over by a circus.” 16.12.2 At 1:36 in the Wildheart Trust Video Ms Corney says:
  • 17. 17 “We’ve got, you know, the images of the cats – we haven’t been to see them yet. We’ve got the video of them, we know where they came from, their background. It’s really, really motivating to think we want to bring them here and we want to start getting to know them.” 16.12.3 The Court will be asked to infer on the basis of these two statements in the Wildheart Trust Video that Ms Corney and, by virtue of his close personal and working relationship with Ms Corney, and his status as a Trustee of the Trust, the Claimant: 16.12.3.1 knew that the Circus Big Cats had since September 2017 been living in the excellent facilities offered by AAP, a leading animal welfare charity, at Primadomus; 16.12.3.2 knew that the Circus Big Cats had been donated to AAP by Circo Wonderland and were aware of the detailed contents of the Teruel Report, alternatively knew the facts and matters recorded in it by Ms Teruel; 16.12.3.3 were negotiating with AAP to become an outplacement partner by offering some of the Circus Big Cats a permanent home at the Wildheart Trust; 16.12.3.4 had viewed the Transfer Video; and 16.12.3.5 as a result of having viewed the Transfer Video, knew that: 16.12.3.5.1 the Macaggi Family loved and cared for the Circus Big Cats and wanted to ensure that they were well treated when no longer part of the circus, and not killed for their skins; 16.12.3.5.2 the Circus Big Cats had only lived temporarily at the Guardamar Zoo; and 16.12.3.5.3 that the Macaggi Family had themselves arranged and undertaken the transfer of the Circus Big Cats to Primadomus, at their own expense. 16.13 In late May or early June 2018, the Claimant and Ms Corney undertook a research trip to Spain accompanied by a journalist from the Daily Mirror (“the Spain Trip”) to visit five tigers from among the Circus Big Cats, these
  • 18. 18 being Mondo, Girona, Antonella, Zoppa and Natasha (“the Tigers”). Pending disclosure, and/or Requests for Further Information and/or the exchange of Witness Statements in these proceedings, the Court will be asked to infer that, consistently with the statements by Ms Corney in the Wildheart Trust Video, and the prospective status of the Wildheart Trust as an outplacement partner for AAP, the detailed background to the Tigers’ life at Circo Wonderland and their donation to AAP by the Macaggi Family, including the information in the Transfer Video and the Teruel Report, was provided or explained to the Claimant by AAP during the Spain Trip. 16.14 In April 2018 the Claimant and Ms Corney initiated a fundraising campaign for the purported purpose of helping to fund an attempt to rescue the Tigers (“the Claimant’s Campaign”). As part of the Claimant’s Campaign, the Claimant published or caused to be published the following statements in relation to the Tigers: 16.14.1 On 28 April 2018 the Claimant published a Tweet at the URL https://twitter.com/ChrisGPackham/status/990335137459122181? s=20&t=vdvnwFgz20xm6KD5SAt8hg (“the 28 April Tweet”). Embedded within the 28 April Tweet was a short video (“the 28 April Video”) in which the Claimant said: “The Wildheart Trust, based at the Isle of Wight Zoo, are currently trying to rescue five circus tigers from Spain. These animals have had a really terrible time and they could do with our help… we could do with some more so that we can make these tigers’ lives a lot healthier and happier, if you can…” 16.14.2 In late May or early June 2018, the Claimant and Ms Corney set up a “JustGiving” fundraising appeal under the name “Hearts for Tigers” (“the JustGiving Appeal”). As part of the JustGiving Appeal, the Claimant and Ms Corney said: “Help the Wildheart Trust provide safe sanctuary for five rescued circus tigers at the Isle of Wight Zoo… During their time at the circus they were kept in miserable and overcrowded conditions in a tiny concrete cage all for the benefit of providing entertainment for the public.” 16.14.3 During the Spain Trip, the Claimant was accompanied by Rhian Lubin of the Daily Mirror. As a result of Spain Trip: 16.14.3.1 The Claimant filmed a video of two of the Circus Big Cats, the tigers Natasha and Zoppa, at Primadomus (“the Mirror
  • 19. 19 Video”). During the Mirror Video, the Claimant described the tigers as follows: “… a couple of tigers that were rescued from horrendous conditions from a circus in Spain. They were kept with a bunch of other tigers and a lion in a tiny area, about a quarter of the size of a tennis court. They were all fed together, so there was intense competition for food. Some lost a lot of condition, they were in a really bad way. They were never cleaned out. I mean this is desperate. Why is it still happening? Well, because we still have circuses in Europe that have wild animals and those animals are not there for education or conservation, they’re there for entertainment. [At this point, the footage shown displays the Guardamar Zoo and then a dirty, rusted cage which appears to be part of a truck for transporting animals]. And when they don’t entertain, they’re surplus to requirements, and they just get abandoned, or abused. Now, thankfully they’ve been rescued, and brought to this absolutely fantastic rehabilitation centre…” 16.14.3.2 The Daily Mirror on 7 June 2018 published an Article headlined “Rescued from circus hell: Help Chris Packham give five abused tigers the retirement they deserve” (“the Mirror Article”). The Mirror Article: 16.14.3.2.1 embedded and published the Mirror Video; 16.14.3.2.2 described the conditions in which the Circus Big Cats were living at the Guardamar Zoo and then said “luckily, all eight big cats were rescued from their prison in a Spanish circus by animal welfare organisation AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection”; 16.14.3.2.3 quoted the Claimant as speaking the first sentence from the Mirror Video, as set out at paragraph 16.14.3.1 above; and 16.14.3.2.4 contained a link to the JustGiving Appeal. 16.14.3.3 The Defendants will ask the Court to infer that the Claimant and Ms Corney had significant input into and/or approved the content of the Mirror Video and the Mirror Article, and consented to both publications being used to elicit sympathy
  • 20. 20 and funds in the form of donations from the public for the Wildheart Trust. 16.14.4 On 8 June 2018 the Claimant published a Tweet on the Claimant’s Twitter Account (“the 8 June Tweet”) which linked to the JustGiving Appeal and said: “I recently travelled to Spain to rescue five ex-circus tigers who lived in miserable conditions. They hadn’t entirely lost their trust in people and greeted us with a tiger hell ‘chuff’. Help us to raise money for their new home @IsleofWight_Zoo”. 16.14.5 On 20 September 2018, the Claimant co-wrote an article with Ms Corney in online magazine “The Face” under the headline: “How wildlife experts Chris Packham and Charlotte Corney are liberating traumatised big cats from circuses across Europe” (“the Face Article”). In the Face Article, the Claimant and Ms Corney referred to the Tigers as follows: “Mondo, Girona, Antonella, Zoppa and Natasha had been rescued by the Dutch animal welfare charity Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP), and sent to their rehabilitation centre, Primadomus, outside Alicante in southern Spain… To this day, Chris struggles to keep a dry eye when he describes the moment Mondo sunk himself into the soothing waters of his big pool. Tigers love to swim. For the first time ever, Mondo could… These were, after all, animals which were forced to live on top of each other in captivity, crammed into a squalid concrete cell and left to compete for scraps of chicken. And, when they weren’t, they were performing to the crack of a whip, their lives framed by a circle of flaming fear – literally and figuratively – which brought the Big Top down night after night… … the more animals taken in by us, and similar sanctuaries, the more centres like AAP Primadomus will have additional space to deal with a backlog of desperate animals waiting in line to be rescued.”
  • 21. 21 16.14.6 The Defendants will rely upon the facts and matters pleaded at paragraph 16.1-16.11 above in support of their contention that the six statements identified in this paragraph: 16.14.6.1 in the case of the 28 April Video and the 8 June Tweet falsely claimed that the Tigers were to be rescued from a circus by the Claimant, implying that the Claimant would be directly involved in liberating the Tigers from miserable conditions in captivity; 16.14.6.2 in the case of the remaining four statements, falsely said or implied that the Tigers had been “rescued” from a circus in unspecified circumstances; 16.14.6.3 in the case of the JustGiving Appeal, the Mirror Video, the Mirror Article and the Face Article, falsely claimed that the circus from which the Tigers had been rescued had cruelly forced them permanently to live in a wholly inadequate, tiny cell in which they had lacked space to exercise; 16.14.6.4 in the case of all six statements falsely claimed that, while at the circus, the Tigers had been subjected to egregious mistreatment and, in particular: 16.14.6.4.1 in the case of the 8 June Tweet falsely claimed that they had been so badly mistreated that they ought to have lost their trust in people entirely; and 16.14.6.4.2 in the case of the Face Article falsely claimed that, in addition to cruelly being forced permanently to live in a wholly inadequate, tiny cell in which they had lacked space to exercise, they lived in desperate conditions and were forced to compete with each other for scraps of food. 16.15 The prominence and success of the JustGiving Appeal, and the favourable and high-profile coverage received from The Daily Mirror and The Face were derived in whole or in part from the Claimant’s privileged status as a BBC presenter. Paragraph 16.1 above is repeated. 16.16 The Claimant’s raising of funds from the public on the basis of the statements set out at paragraph 16.14 above was fraudulent, in that he made the false statements set out at paragraph 16.14 above, he did so dishonestly, because he knew on the basis of the facts and matters set out
  • 22. 22 at paragraphs 16.12 and 16.13 above that the statements he had made were untrue or misleading, and he did so with the intent to make a gain for himself, and/or Ms Corney, and/or the Wildheart Trust via the JustGiving Appeal. 16.17 In support of their case as to the Claimant’s dishonest state of mind in making the statements set out paragraph 16.14, the Defendants will further rely on a video published by the Claimant on Twitter on 7 December 2020, following the publication of the First Article and the Second Article complained of in these proceedings (“the 7 December Video”). In the 7 December Video, the Claimant: 16.17.1 says that the Tigers were “handed over” to AAP, i.e. he admits that they were not rescued, but at the same time the Claimant purports to rely in support of his false statements on a further knowingly false statement, contradicted by what is said in the Transfer Video and in the Wildheart Trust Video that AAP “have always referred to these animals as “rescued tigers””; and 16.17.2 deliberately and misleadingly conflates the conditions at the Guardamar Zoo with the Tigers’ life at the circus, referring to the conditions at the Guardamar Zoo depicted in the Transfer Video and saying in relation to those conditions “I’ll let you make up your own mind as to whether these animals were being badly treated at the circus.” 16.18 In all the circumstances, the Defendants will contend that it is substantially true that the Claimant abused his privileged position as a BBC presenter by fraudulently raising funds from the public for his girlfriend’s zoo charity by falsely stating that tigers at the zoo had been mistreated by, and rescued from, a circus, when, as he knew, the tigers were well-loved family pets that had been donated to the zoo. 17. The Third Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.2. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on: 17.1 The Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16 above. 17.2 The substantial truth of the imputation that the Claimant lied when he claimed that a tiger which the Wildheart Trust had rescued died from injuries sustained at the Circus. PARTICULARS
  • 23. 23 17.2.1 The tiger which the Claimant alleged had died from injuries sustained at the circus was Simi, a tiger which had been unlawfully seized from a German circus, the Las Vegas Circus, in 2014. 17.2.2 The owners of the Las Vegas Circus, the Köllner Family, brought proceedings in Germany in 2016 in relation to the seizure by the German authorities of Simi and other animals. The Court accepted evidence from a number of veterinarians on behalf of the Köllner Family that there were no deficiencies in the care of the animals seized, that they displayed normal behaviour, formed a homogeneous group, and had access to adequate space. 17.2.3 The German Court found that the Köllner Family had not mistreated the animals, and that their seizure was unlawful. 17.2.4 Before the Court ruled on the seizure and the condition of the animals, the German authorities sold the animals, including Simi, for around €100 each. 17.2.5 The Trust obtained Simi from Germany notwithstanding the unlawful nature of the animal’s seizure from the Köllner Family. The Court will be asked to infer that the Trust, and the Claimant, knew or were made aware of the litigation in Germany which was, in part, focused on an animal which they had re-homed and were responsible for as her new owners, and which found that she had not been mistreated or poorly cared for. 17.2.6 Simi died in 2019, five years after her unlawful removal from the circus at which the German Court had accepted that neither she nor the other animals seized were mistreated or suffered from significant health problems. 17.2.7 The Trust made public statements in December 2019, which the Court will be asked to infer were made with the input or approval of the Claimant in light of the facts and matters pleaded at paragraph 1.3 above, to the effect that Simi had died as a result of injuries sustained during her life as a circus performer. 17.2.8 In all the circumstances, the statements made by the Claimant about the reasons for Simi’s death were untrue, and the Claimant knew that they were untrue.
  • 24. 24 18. The Fourth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.3. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16 above. 19. The Fifth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.4. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on: 19.1 The substantial truth of the imputation that the Claimant threatened defamation proceedings, demanding that Country Squire Magazine’s Publications be removed. PARTICULARS 19.1.1 The Claimant’s solicitors sent a letter of claim to the First Defendant dated 19 March 2021 (“the Letter of Claim”), seeking the removal of the First to Fourth Articles from CSM, which threatened “within seven days… to settle and issue proceedings” if this did not take place. 19.2 The Claimant’s defamation threat in the Letter of Claim was in respect of the accurate exposure by Country Squire Magazine of the Claimant’s lies, and did not have any proper basis: PARTICULARS 19.2.1 Paragraph 16 above is repeated. 19.2.2 The Letter of Claim failed to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Media and Communications Claims (“the Protocol”): 19.2.2.1 In respect of the requirement at paragraph 3.2 of the Protocol, that the Letter of Claim include information regarding factual inaccuracies or unsupportable comment within the statement complained of and a sufficient explanation to enable the Defendant to appreciate why the statement is inaccurate or unsupportable, the Letter of Claim failed to: 19.2.2.1.1 explain why the statements which were the focus of the First to Fourth Articles were untrue; or 19.2.2.1.2 to particularise or explain what the Claimant’s state of knowledge in fact was in relation to the facts and matters relating to the Tigers and his fundraising activities on their behalf in the Articles complained of.
  • 25. 25 19.2.2.2 The deficiencies in the Letter of Claim, in particular its lack of engagement with the sting of the imputations in the First to Fourth Articles in relation to the Claimant’s state of mind, were consistent with the dishonest statement made by the Claimant in response to the First and Second Articles in the 7 December Video, as to which paragraph 16.7 above is repeated. 20. The Sixth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.5. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraphs 16 and 19.2 above. 21. The Seventh Article and the First Video are substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.6. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 22. The Second Video is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.7. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 23. The Eighth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.8. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in relation to the first sentence of the meaning set out at paragraph 14.8 on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. As to the second sentence, it is substantially true that the Claimant lied when he said that gamekeepers were burning peat during COP26, when he knew that was untrue. PARTICULARS 23.1 On 27 and 28 October two lawful Muirburns were conducted at Allargue and Edinglassie estates in Cairngorms National Park, Aberdeenshire, on the basis that they were approved by NatureScot and carried out in accordance with the Muirburn Code (“the Muirburns”). 23.2 The Muirburns and their aftermath were filmed by the LACS, which produced an edited film of the event (“the LACS Film”). The LACS Film shows: 23.2.1 the Muirburns being carried out by persons with the necessary equipment; 23.2.2 the Muirburns under close control and the leading edge of the strip fires advancing in a rapid or “cool” burn, which does not penetrate to the underlying peat;
  • 26. 26 23.2.3 the aftermath of the Muirburns in which the heather is blackened but moss sticks up above the heather, demonstrating that the underlying peat had not been touched. 23.3 COP 26 took place between 31 October and 11 November 2021 in Glasgow. 23.4 The LACS Film was screened at a fringe event during COP 26. 23.5 The Muirburns were reported on by the Daily Record in an article published on 11 November 2021 under the headline “Scots shooting estate toffs accused of 'putting two fingers up to COP26' by burning grouse moors” (“the Daily Record Article”). The Daily Record Article included the following comments: 23.5.1 A statement by Stuart Young, Chief Executive of Dunecht Estates, which said that Muirburn is lawful and that controlled fires following the official Muirburn Code do not damage the peat underneath. 23.5.2 A statement by Sarah Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, which said that controlled burning does not damage peat. 23.6 The Claimant made the following statements in relation to the Muirburns: 23.6.1.1 A post on the Claimant’s Twitter Account which said: “Sticking two fingers up to a world in ecological crisis - grouse moors burn peat during @COP26 & their apologists pedal the same old lies . Embarrassing @scotgov ? Yep , so stop the burning then , easy when you are brave enough and have the will @LeagueACS” and embedded the Daily Record Article. 23.6.1.2 In a video published on YouTube on 14 November 2021 entitled “COP26 Has Failed Us, And It Has Failed Our Planet — Chris Packham”, the Claimant said: “... And whilst this has been happening, symbolically they’ve been spitting in our faces. Grouse moors burning here, in Scotland. Peat going up in smoke, carbon, going up in smoke.” 23.6.1.3 On 14 November 2021, the Claimant spoke at a meeting of the anti-grouse moor coalition Revive, at which he asked attendees to imagine smoke (from Allargue and Edinglassie in Aberdeenshire) passing over the very building where delegates were discussing climate change (SEC in Glasgow).
  • 27. 27 23.7 The Claimant is an intelligent and knowledgeable commentator on nature and conservation. He has sufficient knowledge of grouse moor management and its impact on the environment and biodiversity to understand the contrast between the Muirburns on the one hand and, on the other, the impact on unmanaged heather moorland of uncontrolled wildfires. The latter, with a high fuel load, produce fires of extreme severity, which can burn for days or weeks and cause lasting damage to the ecosystem. 23.8 The Court will be asked to infer that the Claimant had watched the LACS Film and read the Daily Record Article, and that he would have known having done so that: the Muirburns were controlled and managed fires which did not burn peat and cause associated carbon emissions. 23.9 In all the circumstances, the Defendants will say that Claimant lied when he said that gamekeepers were burning peat during COP26, when he knew that was untrue. 24. The Ninth Article is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.9. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in relation to the first sentence of the meaning set out at paragraph 14.9 on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. As to the second sentence, it is substantially true that the Claimant further lied by asking for donations to feed the animals during the Covid emergency whilst dishonestly concealing the fact that the Trust was due to receive a large insurance payment, potentially £500,000. PARTICULARS 24.1 On 20 March 2020 the Claimant and Ms Corney launched an appeal on behalf of the Trust on crowdfunder.co.uk under the headline “SOS - Save Our Animal Sanctuary - Covid19 Appeal” (“the Covid19 Appeal”). The Covid19 Appeal page contained text and a video, published on YouTube under the headline “Our Animals Need Your Support – Chris Packham” (“the Appeal Video”), referring to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic was putting the Trust “under enormous financial stress”. The Covid19 Appeal portrayed the circumstances faced by the Trust as an existential threat. 24.2 The Trust, as the Court will be asked to infer the Claimant knew as result of his status as a Trustee, benefited from insurance cover at the material time. Following forced closure pursuant to Government guidance on 24 March 2020, the Trust’s insurance cover provided that it was entitled to compensation for losses suffered resulting from “interference with the
  • 28. 28 Business in consequence of action by the Police or other Competent Local, Civil, or Military Authority”. 24.3 The Claimant in seeking donations as part of the Covid19 Appeal dishonestly failed to refer to the fact of the insurance cover enjoyed by the Trust or the extent to which it would benefit from that cover during the period covered by the Appeal. 24.4 In all the circumstances the Defendants will contend that it is substantially true that the Claimant further lied by asking for donations to feed the animals during the Covid emergency whilst dishonestly concealing the fact that the Trust was due to receive a large insurance payment, potentially £500,000. 25. The Second Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.10. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 26. The Third Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.11. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth in relation to the imputation that the Claimant made the untrue statement that he did not do anything wrong and that he fraudulently raised funds for the Wildheart Trust on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. It is substantially true that the Claimant deserved to be dealt with by the Fundraising Regulator. 26.1 The Fundraising Regulator’s Fundraising Code provides at paragraph 1.3 that “You and the fundraising materials you use must not mislead anyone, or be likely to mislead anyone, either by leaving out information or by being inaccurate or ambiguous or by exaggerating details”. 26.2 The statements made by the Claimant for the purposes of fundraising in relation to the Tigers and/or the Trust set out at paragraphs 16.14 and 24 above in relation to the Tigers and the Trust contravened paragraph 1.3 of the Fundraising Code, in that they were likely to mislead, were inaccurate, ambiguous and exaggerated. Paragraphs 16 and 24 are repeated. 27. The Fourth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.12. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 28. The Fifth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.13. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 19.2.
  • 29. 29 29. The Sixth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.14. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 30. The Eighth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.15. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 31. The Further Eighth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.16. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16. 32. The Ninth Article Tweet is substantially true in the meaning set out at paragraph 14.11. The Defendants will rely in support of their plea of substantial truth on the Particulars of truth set out at paragraph 16 33. If one or more of the imputations complained of is not shown to be substantially true, the Defendants will to the extent necessary rely on s.2(3) of the Defamation Act 2013. Defence under s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013 34. The statements complained of were or formed part of statements on a matter of public interest: 34.1 Paragraphs 1, 2 and 16.1 above are repeated. The Claimant is a very prominent public figure. 34.2 The focus of the statements complained of was on the dishonest and misleading nature of statements made by the Claimant, a high profile and controversial public figure in the fields of animal rights, conservation and the environment, in relation to the alleged mistreatment of animals by a Spanish circus, for fundraising purposes, in relation to a Trust of which he is a Trustee. 34.2.1 Animal rights and welfare generally are a subject of high public interest, and part of a wider public debate as to conservation and environmental issues, which has assumed increasing urgency in recent years. 34.2.2 The appropriateness of the use of animals in circus acts, and their treatment by circuses in those circumstances, is an important aspect of the debate around animal rights and welfare.
  • 30. 30 34.2.3 Relative to the public in European countries the British public are strongly interested in and sympathetic animal rights and welfare issues. 34.2.4 Fundraising for animal rights causes is often highly emotive and relies on the emotional pull and photogenic qualities of the animals in question to elicit public sympathy. This effect is exacerbated by allegations of abuse or mistreatment of the animals for which funds are sought to be raised. This is particularly the case where that abuse or mistreatment is alleged to have taken place (1) for entertainment purposes at a circus, and (2) in a country where animal rights and welfare standards are, or are perceived to be, less high than in this country. 34.2.5 Those who raise funds for charitable trusts, and in particular their Trustees, are subject to particular responsibilities in relation to such activities. 34.2.6 Fundraising for charitable purposes, and the effectiveness of regulation of fundraising activities by the Fundraising Regulator, are subjects of high public interest. 35. In relation to the publications for which their responsibility is admitted at paragraph 10 above, the First and Second Defendants reasonably believed that publishing the statements complained of was in the public interest. Their respective beliefs arose at the time when the Second Defendant researched and wrote and the First Defendant edited the First Article, and continued throughout the process of publication of the relevant statements, on the basis of further information which came to light. 36. The First and Second Defendant’s belief was a reasonable one taking into account all of the circumstances of the case: 36.1 The Second Defendant’s investigation into the Claimant was prompted by the publication by the Claimant of the Appeal Video. 36.1.1 The Second Defendant was suspicious of the Claimant’s claim in the Appeal Video that animals “rescued” by the Trust were ones which had endured “horrific conditions throughout the course of their lives” and of the claim in the Covid19 Appeal that animals at the trust had been “at the mercy of travelling circuses in Spain” where “these defenceless animals were the victims of unimaginable neglect and cruelty living hellish lives confined within squalid beast-wagons or
  • 31. 31 crammed into tiny pens where they were left to fight for scrapes of food in between performances”. 36.1.2 The Second Defendant was aware of the rehoming by the Trust of Simi, and contacted Martin Lacey Jr. at Circus Krone in Munich. Mr Lacey, via his secretary, sent the Second Defendant information about the seizure of animals from the Las Vegas Circus. The Second Defendant by this means received the information from the Köllner Family which is set out at paragraph 17.2.2 above. 36.1.3 The Second Defendant further investigated the rehoming of two tigers, first, “Julie”, which had been taken from the Köllner Family at the same time as Simi, and which had been falsely alleged in reporting to have been abused by the circus, and, second, “Tango”, a tiger which had been voluntarily given up by its Belgian owner, and which had also been falsely alleged to have been abused by the circus. 36.1.4 The Second Defendant investigated the basis for the Claimant’s public statements about the Tigers, and in particular the circumstances in which the Tigers had been donated by Circo Wonderland and re-homed by the Trust. 36.1.5 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the First Article the Second Defendant considered: 36.1.5.1 the Mirror Article and Mirror Video; and 36.1.5.2 the Transfer Video. 36.1.6 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the Second Article, the Second Defendant further considered: 36.1.6.1 the Teruel Report; and 36.1.6.2 an electronic message from the Macaggi Family, which referred to: the donation of the tigers to Primadomus and their re-homing at the Trust; a visit by a member of the Macaggi Family to the Tigers at Primadomus (Lucetto Macaggi) when the Tigers responded very positively to him; and to the falsity of the allegations by the Trust that the Tigers had been badly treated at Circo Wonderland.
  • 32. 32 36.1.7 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the Third Article, the Second Defendant further considered the 7 December Video. 36.1.8 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the Fourth Article, the Second Defendant further considered a video of the visit by Lucetto Macaggi referred to at paragraph 36.1.6.2 above, in which the close and loving relationship he enjoyed with them was obvious. 36.1.9 In the course of his investigation, and for the purposes of writing the Fifth Article, the Second Defendant further considered the Letter of Claim. 36.1.10 In the course of his investigation and for the purposes of writing the Eighth Article, the Second Defendant considered an External Reviewer’s decision in relation to his complaint to the Fundraising Regulator. 36.2 The First Defendant, by considering the Second Defendant’s sources, verified the product of the Second Defendant’s investigation for the purposes of the editing, rewriting and publication of each of the Articles originally prepared by the Second Defendant. 36.3 Following the publication of the First Article, the Second Defendant complained to the Fundraising Regulator on 6 August 2020 (“the FR Complaint”). The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England and Wales and was an appropriate means by which the First and Second Defendants could challenge the Trust and the Claimant directly regarding the concerns raised about the Claimant in the First Article. 36.3.1 The Second Defendant made the FR Complaint on the basis that the Mirror Article and the Mirror Video falsely claimed in the context of the Trust’s fundraising activities that the tigers mentioned in the video had been rescued from horrendous conditions. 36.3.2 The Fundraising Regulator referred the FR Complaint to the Trust on 6 August 2020. 36.3.3 There were written communications between the Second Defendant and the Chief Operating Officer of the Trust pursuant to the FR Complaint from 29 September 2020 onwards.
  • 33. 33 36.3.4 The Trust responded to the Fundraising Regulator with reference to generic concerns about the use of wild animals in circuses and linked to the Transfer Video. 36.3.5 On 26 October 2020, the Fundraising Regulator replied to the Second Defendant saying that it had decided that there was insufficient evidence to show a breach of the code that would require an investigation. 36.3.6 The Second Defendant made further representations. In response, the Fundraising Regulator wrote to him on 8 December 2020 to tell him that it was starting an investigation. 36.3.7 The First and Second Defendants published the Third Article on 12 December 2020 and considered the Fundraising Regulator’s response for the purposes of its writing and publication. 36.3.8 On 19 December 2020 the Daily Mail published a story about the Claimant and the Trust. 36.3.9 The First and Second Defendants published the Fourth Article on 23 December 2020. 36.3.10 The Fundraising Regulator found in a decision published on 21 May 2021 that the Trust’s assertions, based on its view of the facts and research, although arguably expressed rather sweepingly with a touch of hyperbole, were not misleading or likely to mislead in relation to the fundraising ask. 36.3.11 On 12 December 2021, the Fundraising Regulator published an external review of its decision. While expressing reservations about the Trust’s claim to rescue animals from Spanish circuses, the External Reviewer did not find that the test for full external review was met. 36.3.12 Following the publication of the outcome of the Fundraising Regulator’s external review, the First and Second Defendants added an update, reporting on the outcome in critical terms, to the Third Article. 36.3.13 The extensive engagement of the Second Defendant with the Fundraising Regulator, and via the Fundraising Regulator with the Claimant, is a relevant circumstance for the purposes of the First and Second Defendants’ defence under s.4 of the Defamation Act 2013.
  • 34. 34 36.4 Each of the publications for which the First and Second Defendants’ responsibility is admitted at paragraph 10 above was published in response to public statements by the Claimant or to developments in the Second Defendant’s investigation into the basis for the Claimant’s public statements, including the involvement of the Fundraising Regulator. 36.5 Each of the Articles contained the Claimant’s side of the story, or its gist, including developments in his position as the Second Defendant’s investigation progressed: 36.5.1 the First Article linked to the Appeal Video; 36.5.2 the Second Article: 36.5.2.1 linked to the Appeal Video, the Mirror Article, and the Mirror Video; and 36.5.2.2 included a detailed response from the Trust (“the Trust Response”) in relation to an inquiry relating to the allegations that the Claimant had been dishonest, which set out the Claimant’s position, to the extent that he was prepared to provide it. 36.5.3 the Third Article linked to the 7 December Video, which set out the Claimant’s position in relation to the allegation of dishonesty, to the extent that he was prepared to provide it, and was updated by reference to the decision of the Fundraising Regulator’s External Reviewer in December 2021; 36.5.4 the Fourth Article linked to the Covid19 Appeal; 36.5.5 the Fifth Article linked to the full text of the Letter of Claim; 36.5.6 the Sixth Article linked to the Fundraising Regulator’s Decision; 36.5.7 the Seventh Article linked to the Sixth Article and by that means to the Fundraising Regulator’s Decision; 36.5.8 the First Video referred to the Claimant’s account of the mistreatment and rescuing of the Tigers; 36.5.9 the Second Video referred to the Claimant’s account of the mistreatment and rescuing of the Tigers;
  • 35. 35 36.5.10 the Eighth Article linked to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Articles; 36.5.11 the Ninth Article linked to the Covid19 Appeal; and 36.5.12 the Second to Ninth Article Tweets linked to the relevant articles. 36.6 As a publisher, CSM has always made clear, including within the Articles complained of themselves, that it is eager to receive and publish right of reply responses to its publication, including from those on opposing sides of any debate which it covers. In the Fifth Article, the First Defendant expressly invited the Claimant to provide his “side of the tiger tale in his own words”. 36.7 In all the circumstances, and in the exercise of their editorial judgment, the First and Second Defendants have shown that the statements complained of were, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and that they reasonably believed that publishing the statements complained of was in the public interest. DAMAGE 37. The Claimant is required to prove paragraph 17. REMEDIES 38. The Claimant’s entitlement to damages including aggravated damages as pleaded at paragraph 18 is in the circumstances denied. As to the Particulars of Aggravation pleaded at paragraph 18: 38.1 The Claimant is required to prove that the publications set out at paragraph 18.1, which were substantially published to readers of CSM or followers of its social media output, caused any significant additional injury to the Claimant’s feelings beyond any caused by the publications complained of. 38.2 The Defendants will rely on the lengthy list of further publications complained of in respect of the Claimant’s plea of aggravation in support of their contention that the Claimant’s approach to these proceedings has been repetitious, disproportionate and oppressive and has served needlessly to increase their costs and complexity. Paragraph 4 above is repeated. 38.3 The publications at paragraph 18.1.1 to 18.1.6 and the First Defendant’s responsibility for them are admitted.
  • 36. 36 38.4 As to paragraph 18.1.8, it is denied that any of the Defendants is responsible for the crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund”, which was set up by third parties to crowdfund the Defendants’ defence of these proceedings. The Defendants will contend that any criticism by the Claimant of the Defendants’ benefiting from crowdfunding, or of the conduct and publications of the Defendants’ supporters is an example of rank hypocrisy and is fundamentally objectionable in view of: 38.4.1 The Claimant’s own extensive use of crowd-funding, including in support of the Trust. 38.4.2 The Claimant and/or his solicitors’ successful removal of the crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund” after two and a half hours. 38.4.3 The threatening and harassing conduct of the Claimant’s supporters towards the Defendants, including death threats made to the First Defendant, which have resulted in reports to the Police. 38.4.4 The threatening and harassing conduct of the Claimant’s supporters towards the Defendants’ solicitors in these proceedings, including by: tagging them without justification in publications on Twitter, and sending emails to the Defendants’ solicitors asking questions about the case, criticising the First Defendant, and threatening without justification to report the firm to the SRA. This conduct commenced very shortly after their instruction, on 22 March 2022. The Court will be asked to infer that such conduct is an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice in these proceedings, carried out by the Claimant’s supporters on his behalf. 38.5 As to the audio message of the First Defendant referred to at paragraph 18.1.7: 38.5.1 The pleaded content of the audio message is admitted. 38.5.2 The audio message was published as a rallying call to friends and supporters by the First Defendant in response to the removal of the crowdfunding page entitled “The Reptile Fund”, and was published on a private Facebook Group. To the extent necessary, the First Defendant will contend that the audio message was published on an occasion of qualified privilege, in that: it was in the First Defendant’s interest to communicate to those who might support his and the Second and Third Defendants’ defence in these proceedings, and all
  • 37. 37 those who heard the words spoken by him had a corresponding and legitimate interest in receiving it. The publication of the audio message was reasonable in all the circumstances and its dissemination went no wider than was necessary to inform those interests. 38.5.3 The First Defendant denies that he was responsible for the republication of the audio message on the public “Countryside Capers” Facebook Group, or that this republication was reasonably foreseeable. 39. Except that the Claimant is required to prove his emotional attachment to his CBE, paragraph 18.2 is admitted. 40. As to paragraph 18.3: 40.1 The first sentence is admitted. 40.2 The second sentence is not admitted. 41. As to paragraph 18.4, except that it is admitted that the First Defendant referred to the Claimant’s Asperger’s syndrome, this paragraph is denied: 41.1 In the First Video and the Seventh Article, the First Defendant asked whether it is “really OK to blame your obvious nastiness on Asperger’s when in reality you’re just a little bully?”. This is a reference to the Claimant publicly attributing his admittedly difficult and anti-social behaviour to Asperger’s syndrome. 41.2 In the Second Video, the First Defendant referred to the Claimant having “already played the Asperger’s card”. This was a reference to the Claimant not being entitled to rely on Asperger’s syndrome as a basis for misleading the public. 41.3 In the Eighth Article, the First Defendant said that the BBC “know full well by now the Asperger’s ‘victim’ card is no longer a get out of jail free card”. This was a reference to the Claimant not being entitled to rely on Asperger’s syndrome as a basis for misleading the public. 42. It is denied that paragraph 18.5 is capable of amounting to a particular of aggravation:
  • 38. 38 42.1 The Letter of Claim set out the Claimant’s position in these proceedings to the extent he was prepared to provide it, and there is no legal basis to restrain or complain of the publication of such a letter. 42.2 The Claimant’s position is that he has not been dishonest or misleading, and he therefore has nothing to fear from a call for evidence against him. 43. Paragraph 18.6 is denied. Publications which followed the Letter of Claim were updates to the Second Defendant’s investigation and not acts of retaliation. 44. Paragraph 18.7 is denied. Neither the First Defendant nor any of his colleagues have sent an email sent to Wild Justice. 45. Paragraph 18.8 is admitted. 46. The Claimant is required to prove paragraph 18.9. Mitigation of damage 47. The Defendants will rely in mitigation of damages on directly relevant background context in relation to the Claimant’s conduct, pursuant to the principles articulated by the Court of Appeal in Burstein v Times Newspapers Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 579. The Defendants will rely on the following facts and matters in this regard: PARTICULARS 47.1 The knowingly false statements for which the Claimant was responsible relating to the circumstances surrounding the unlawful seizure of Simi, which led to her re-homing by the Trust, which were intended by the Claimant to elicit media interest in and promote the Trust and his fundraising efforts on its behalf. 47.1.1 Paragraph 17.2 above is repeated. 47.1.2 The Claimant made the following public statements regarding Simi’s alleged mistreatment: 47.1.2.1 On the Claimant’s website at www.chrispackham.co.uk, on 27 May 2016, the Claimant published an article by Ms Corney headlined “News From Isle of Wight Zoo” which referred to Simi as having been “abused by humans for 8 years” (“the News Article”). The News Article included a reference to the Zoo’s funding difficulties and need to raise money. The Defendants will contend that the Claimant was responsible as a matter of fact and
  • 39. 39 a matter of law for the News Article and the statements it contained as the editor or publisher of his website. 47.1.2.2 On or around 26 April 2018, the Isle of Wight County Press, as part of publicity surrounding the JustGiving Appeal, reported that “Simi's life at the zoo has transformed her into a calm, confident and friendly tiger following her life as an ill- treated circus animal”. The Court will be asked to infer that this was a report of information given to the newspaper by the Claimant or on his behalf for publication. 47.1.2.3 In the Appeal Video, the Claimant said “At the Wildheart Trust we rescue emotionally and physically broken animals, principally big cats from European circuses. Animals that have endured horrific conditions throughout their lives”. 47.1.3 The Claimant knew that Simi had not been abused or mistreated, and had not endured horrific conditions throughout her life, and that her seizure was unlawful. Paragraph 17.2.5 above is repeated. 47.1.4 The Defendants will rely on the Claimant’s knowingly false and dishonest statements in relation to Simi, who he knew had not been abused or mistreated by the Köllner Family, made for or predominantly for fundraising purposes, in mitigation of damages. 47.2 The knowingly false public statements for which the Claimant was responsible relating to the circumstances surrounding purported death threats made against him, which were intended by the Claimant to elicit media interest in, and public sympathy and support, including financial support, for Wild Justice and the Claimant’s campaigning on environmental issues. 47.2.1 On 24 April 2019, following a legal challenge by Wild Justice, Natural England announced that it would revoke General Licences 04, 05 and 06 for controlling wild birds from the following day. 47.2.2 The revocation of General Licences 04, 05 and 06 was highly contentious and provoked a backlash in the form of extremely negative responses from farmers and others involved in conservation and work with the land. 47.2.3 On 29 April 2019 the Claimant told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme that he had received a death threat in the form of a letter (“the Death Threat Letter”), and that this was intended to elicit fear
  • 40. 40 and intimidate him in response to the successful Wild Justice campaign. 47.2.4 The Death Threat Letter was handwritten. A comparison of the handwriting in the Death Threat Letter with samples of the Claimant’s own handwriting by experts, including by an experienced forensic document examiner, indicates that the Death Threat Letter is likely to have been written by the Claimant. 47.2.5 The Defendants will rely on the Claimant’s knowingly false and dishonest statements about the Death Threat Letter, which the Claimant knew was not a genuine threat or act of intimidation, and the fact that these false statements were made in order to or predominantly in order to elicit public sympathy and support, including financial support, for Wild Justice and the Claimant’s campaigning on environmental issues, in mitigation of damages. Injunction 48. As to paragraph 19: 48.1 As to the first sentence it is denied for the reasons set out above that the Claimant is entitled to an injunction against the First and Second Defendants. 48.2 As to the second sentence, in view of the objections of the Defendants and the disapproval of the Court set out at paragraph 4 above, the Claimant should not pursue any purported right to amend his claim to include further publications. Further remedies 49. As to paragraphs 20 and 21, it is denied that the Claimant is entitled to the relief claimed or any relief. GERVASE DE WILDE 5RB, Gray’s Inn 8 April 2022 STATEMENT OF TRUTH I, the First Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or
  • 41. 41 causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth. Signed: ……………………….. Dated: ……………………….... STATEMENT OF TRUTH I, the Second Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth. Signed: ……………………….. Dated: ……………………….... STATEMENT OF TRUTH I, the Third Defendant, believe that the facts stated in this Defence are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth. Signed: ……………………….. Dated: ………………………....