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Commoner reports Chris Packham to Ofcom, anti-terror police and Hampshire police and crime commissioner over Channel 4 documentary Is It Time to Break the Law?

A New Forest businessman has reported TV environmentalist Chris Packham to the police for “inciting terrorism” on his latest TV show.

Reginald Chester-Sterne, who owns Norris & Sons store in Beaulieu, says he is “greatly” alarmed that Mr Packham’s messaging in a new Channel 4 documentary could incite eco activists to “bomb” the nearby Fawley oil refinery.

Mr Chester-Sterne complained about the programme ‘Is It Time to Break the Law?’ – which airs tonight (Wednesday) – to anti-terrorism police in London, as well as Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner and broadcast regulator Ofcom.

Conservationist Chris Packham lives in the New Forest
Conservationist Chris Packham lives in the New Forest

The documentary explores whether protest groups like Just Stop Oil are morally justified to break the law in their bid to protect the environment.

Speaking to the A&T, Mr Chester-Sterne said: “Chris Packham complained when someone set fire to a car near his home and damaged his gate but now he’s advocating the same thing happens at an oil refinery.

“I don’t see how he can get away with it. Even the trailer for his new show definitely gave the impression that he was advocating blowing up oil pipelines.”

He added: “I’ve reported this to anti-terrorism police based in London because I believe it’s an incitement to break the law and would have a direct impact on my health and that of my family because I live within the blast area of the Fawley refinery.

“There are idiots around who will try to take him at his word.

“I’ve received no reply from the anti-terror police, so I’ve also reported this to Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner.

“I did receive a reply after making a complaint to Ofcom because I don’t think his new show should have been allowed to air.

Reginald Chester-Sterne
Reginald Chester-Sterne

“I support people’s rights to have their say over issues but not to advocate destruction.”

Answering Mr Chester-Sterne’s concerns, a Channel 4 spokesperson told the A&T: “This programme does not incite people to break the law. It was made in accordance with the Ofcom broadcasting code and explores in a duly impartial way recent and historical protest movements and a debate within society about the tactics of environmental protest.”

Mr Chester-Sterne’s complaint to Ofcom about the show read: “Packham is putting me and my family in danger, I live within the blast zone of Fawley refinery.

“His comments are causing me worry and stress. He is advocating blowing up refineries or pipelines in pursuit of his agenda. Someone may follow his words and actually do it. Why is he allowed to advocate possible injury to persons, law breaking and destruction of property?”

Ofcom replied: “Please be assured that if your complaint does raise a potential issue, we will start an investigation.

“Whether or not we believe an investigation is required, your comments and feedback will be considered.”

The office for the police and crime commissioner wrote to Mr Chester-Sterne to say his complaint had been forwarded to the Hampshire force, adding: “They will need to look into this and possibly approach the broadcaster for further information on the programme’s content. It would be the police to establish if any offences are committed.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight police and crime commissioner Donna Jones
Hampshire and Isle of Wight police and crime commissioner Donna Jones

“As you can appreciate the site at Fawley is an extremely important site both locally and nationally and there are significant plans in place to ensure it remains safe and secure for residents and workers.”

Before his latest controversial programme aired, Chris Packham recently found himself in hot water for sniffing a goshawk chick on BBC’s The One Show – prompting complaints from members of the public that he had illegally disturbed the birds.

Hampshire Police told the A&T enquiries over the goshawk sniffing incident are ongoing but there is no criminal investigation into Chris Packham’s latest programme.

Chris Packham: Is It Time to Break the Law? airs on Channel 4 at 9pm today.

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