A letter to the Shooting Times

Dear Shooting Times,

We write to you to draw to your attention the inaccuracy of an article published in your magazine of 10 February 2021 entitled ‘Shooting for a Perfect Ten‘ where your columnist describes, in detail, a day’s shooting, whose aim was to kill as many different species as possible, which includes an account of bringing down a Carrion Crow and then stalking a Jay. 

Your columnist wrote that he ‘surprised himself’ with a ‘very high crow’ which ‘folded like a fist’ when a barrel was emptied into it, and that it ‘wouldn’t be troubling the yellow wagtails or corn buntings this spring’.

Your columnist writes nearly 200 words on stalking the Jay at the end of the day, bringing it down with a single shot and how its glorious turquoise flashes and white rump were still visible in the gloom. He seemed to think that he was helping Nightingales and Turtle Doves by doing this.

Essex Police investigated this case after we reported it to DEFRA as a potential breach of the general licences. DEFRA asked Wild Justice to forward to Essex Police the legal and biological dossiers we had sent to DEFRA.

Essex Police inform us that ‘With regards to the Carrion Crow and Jay he [ie your columnist] has stated that, he did not shoot these birds on this day and has a number of frozen/prop birds that he uses in his articles, if he needs to and bases the events on previous incidents or other incidents which have similarities.‘.

So all that stuff about a very high crow was actually a very frozen crow and the lyrical account of the killing of the Jay was also, we must assume, false. If those elements of the fictional account published by you had been true then your columnist might have faced criminal action.

We are writing to you, now that the police investigation has concluded, to point out to you that by publishing a false and inaccurate story, the Shooting Times has broken the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code of Practice to which we see you are signed up. You have, in our opinion broken, Clause 1(i) which refers to publishing inaccurate, misleading or distorted information since you have published an account which the author now says was untrue.

In any case, we believe that the original article could encourage others to take similar action and for them to believe that such action would be lawful when we believe that it would not be.

We ask that you publish a full and detailed retraction of the original article and make clear that had it actually been true, such behaviour might open up the shooter to criminal prosecution and that the Shooting Times would never condone firearms users breaking the law. We ask that you send us the retraction that you propose to publish for our review and approval.

We look forward to your response. We have not made a complaint to IPSO as we wish to give you the opportunity to make amends for your publication voluntarily, but we remain cognisant of the possibility of referring this to IPSO for adjudication.