For Europe’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, the added attraction of attacking the grouse industry was that every time it did, it saw a surge of donations. It portrayed itself as the protector of endangered birds against villainous gamekeepers.
The RSPB claimed one million members and this was giving it a remarkable power over the UK environment department as well as over the police and wildlife crime prosecutors. For decades the RSPB was able to shape or block government policy without facing any scrutiny itself.
So a besieged grouse moor community turned to Abzed. Our approach was to turn the spotlight onto the RSPB. Our investigation of its shortcomings led to a flurry of hard-hitting media articles. The RSPB had been used to the media accepting its narrative in an uncritical fashion so our “You Forgot The Birds” website led to a panicked response from the charity.
We also started bringing the RSPB to the attention of regulators. Following a series of letters the Charity Commission decided that the RSPB had made false marketing claims while the Advertising Standards Authority described its website as being “misleading”. This is leading to further legal and media initiatives with the former England cricket captain, Sir Ian Botham, acting as our chief spokesman.