Chris Packham branded ‘Marmite’, in tiger fraud libel trial
Posted by  badge Boss on May 09
Chris Packham has been described as ‘Marmite’ (Picture: Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)

has been described as ‘Marmite’ by a blog editor he is suing for libel.

The TV presenter is that included claims he defrauded and ‘manipulated’ people into donating to a charity to rescue five tigers while knowing the animals were well looked after.

The strongly denied allegations, repeated in several tweets and videos, relate to , which runs a wildlife sanctuary on the Isle of Wight.

Dominic Wightman, editor of Country Squire Magazine, is defending the libel claim along with writer Nigel Bean and a third man, Paul Read.

Lawyers for Wightman and Bean have said the articles in the claim could be defended as true, while Read said he was not responsible for the publications as he was a ‘mere proofreader’.

On Tuesday, Wightman, who works in asset management, gave evidence at the High Court in London.

In his written evidence, he said Packham ‘dishonestly raised funds from the public by stating that tigers had been rescued from a circus where they had been mistreated, whereas in fact, as the claimant knew, the tigers had been well-treated and had been donated by the circus’.

The TV presenter is suing three men over nine articles that included claims he defrauded and ‘manipulated’ people into donating to a charity (Picture: PA)

Wightman continued: ‘I knew this before posting the articles.

‘The claimant knew what he was saying in the crowdfunding videos was untruthful as he was an acting trustee of the Wildheart Trust, to where the tigers were going, when he made these claims in articles, verbally and in front of a camera.’

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Packham said the five tigers, which had been used in a Spanish circus, had been left in a holding facility before they came into the care of animal welfare group AAP.

They were then moved to the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary as their ‘forever home’.

said the sanctuary – which he and his partner are trustees of – was part of a ‘chain of rescue’.

However, on Tuesday, Wightman said: ‘You’re not rescuing, there’s a loan agreement between Wildheart Trust and AAP.’

In his written evidence, Wightman alleged that Packham ‘often lies’.

He continued: ‘I also had it confirmed for me by asking around that the claimant is Marmite.

‘Many, especially traditional countrysiders, see him as a dangerous activist who plays to feelings not facts in an attempt to eco chug and threatens their industries and ways of life by twisting the truth.

It was alleged that Packham ‘often lies’ (Picture: BBC/Pete Dadds)

‘Others, including one of my five sisters, thought the claimant was a really nice bloke who saves cuddly animals.’

Packham had previously been accused by Wightman and Bean of forging a death threat he received in a handwritten letter.

However, this allegation was withdrawn during the trial.

Earlier during the trial, and would not think he went ‘pliers in hand’ to rescue tigers during an 

On the second day of the trial on Wednesday, the BBC Springwatch presenter began his evidence, spending most of the day in the witness box at the London court.

Packham told the court ‘people know me as not Jason Bourne,’ who is an action hero played by Matt Damon, and they would not think he was cutting the bars of circus cages, it was reported by PA Media.

He also said: ‘I don’t think that at any stage the public were under the misapprehension that I was going out with pliers in hand to go and rescue the tigers myself.

‘We were very clear about the role of AAP [Animal Advocacy and Protection] and our role in the rescue process,’ he said, adding: ‘I refute your allegation that we have attempted to mislead the public.’

Nicholas O’Brien, representing Wightman and Bean asked: ‘If those tigers had been unlawfully locked up in a zoo and you sent people with wire cutters to free them, that would be a rescue.’

Packham replied: ‘I suppose in a James Bond sense they could.

‘We would go through all the necessary legal hoops. We wouldn’t be busting into a zoo.’