Oddie hits back over ‘outrageous bullying’
British ornithologist and TV personality Bill Oddie is accusing the hunters’ federation of “verbal bullying” after it issued a statement questioning his mental state.
The FKNK last week controversially branded Mr Oddie, who was in Malta supporting Birdlife’s campaign against spring hunting, a “mental case”.
Mr Oddie, who has spoken openly about his bouts of depression and suffering from bipolar disorder, lambasted FKNK’s remarks as “outrageous”.
“I honestly did not know whether to laugh or cry when I came across this statement,” he told Times of Malta when contacted in the UK.
“I never came across something like this before. I cannot accept such remarks as criticism. This is classic bullying. However, I will not even bother to sue people about these remarks,” he said.
FKNK president Joe Perici Calascione had attempted to justify the federation’s comments by saying the point was to question the reliability of Mr Oddie.
However, Richmond Foundation CEO Antoinette Shah had come out slamming FKNK’s statement as “extremely unethical” and “very degrading”.
Reacting, Mr Oddie laid emphasis on the fact that the points raised by the hunting lobby were completely irrelevant to the spring hunting debate. He said he had no qualms talking about his “mental condition”, which FKNK made so much fuss about, adding he was an active supporter of NGOs working in the mental health sector.
“I suffer from bipolar disorder but I did not have any problems for four years,” Mr Oddie said.
He argued that if the federation chose to go down this route, then it would be perfectly legitimate to question whether somebody who had previously suffered from a mental condition would be fit to carry a rifle during the hunting season.
The anti-hunting campaigner said “disgusting and offensive” remarks were not exclusive to Malta as he had already experienced similar abuse at home.
He also expressed concern that the hunting lobby may resort to the same bullying tactics to discourage people from voting for the abolition of spring hunting in the abrogative referendum.
Malta’s reputation has been tarnished over the past days with many resorting to Facebook and social media saying they would boycott the island, but Mr Oddie had a different view on this.
He argued that in all the countries he had visited the hunting lobby could rely on the support of politicians who were ultimately those vested with the power to legislate on hunting.
He expressed his concern that a number of environmentalists, including BBC presenter Chris Packham, were questioned by police. For law-abiding citizens this could be a traumatic experience which might eventually discourage some environmentalists from coming forward to support anti-hunting campaigns.
Asked whether he would return to Malta he said this was unlikely.
“Ultimately it is now up to the Maltese to stand up and be counted,” he said.