Thursday, 4 January 2018

Open Letter to Christopher Hope at The Telegraph

Dear Mr Hope,

I was alarmed to read one of your recent articles in the Telegraph, with an even more alarming headline;

There are several reasons for writing this open letter to you, but one of my main points is to let you know how disappointed I am in you as a journalist.  It appears that you have fabricated this absurd headline after reading my blog post and I am very disappointed in your "chief" journalistic approach to my meeting with Sir John Randall.

The first point I must pick you up on is your use of the words "plotting war"! Four people under the age of 20 talking with the PM's environmental advisor about a wide range of environmental issues is not "plotting war", but I am sure you don't need me to tell you that.

I am 15. I genuinely care about this shared planet we live on. We are facing a global mass extinction of wildlife, and yet you ignore everything in my blog apart from the sections on driven grouse shooting and the fact that unnamed "Pro-field sports MPs are privately appalled by the comments". So can you please clarify something for me. Are these unnamed MPs appalled that we talked about tackling "wildlife crime"? Our conversation was about "illegal activity" and sentences for illegal activity. 

As I commented in my conversation with Sir John Randall "it would be great if you could get the removal of gun licenses made law for anyone found guilty of shooting raptors". Shooting raptors is illegal, so surely this is not an unreasonable punishment. It is not in any way "plotting war" it is simply appropriately punishing those who break the law. Mr Hope, do you think it is acceptable that we had just 3 successful breeding pairs of Hen Harrier in England in 2017?

Banning the use of lead shot is not "plotting war"on the shooting industry either. It is simply ensuring that a poison like lead is not spread across our shared rural locations. Lead is a poison. It has been removed from fuel and paint as it is a health hazard, so surely it must be removed from the food chain. This is not plotting war, it is common sense.

But I can take all this in you article as you were clearly after a headline and wanted to create your story. This is not the thing that disappoints me the most about what you wrote. It's more about what you didn't write.

Georgia, Josie, Jordan and I are 4 young people who are genuinely worried about the future of the environment for our generation and for yours. We had the courage to put our heads above the parapet and speak out about our concerns on global warming, plastic pollution, lack of education in schools on environmental issues, marine conservation, investment in re-newable energy and more. You had a real positive story that you could have told. You could have chosen to write that story. You chose not to.

You have the power and influence to help spread our message far and wide. You could have supported us in our desire to tackle environmental issues, but you chose a cheap headline instead.  The surge of young people concerned and engaged with environmental issues should not be undervalued or underestimated.

I don’t think you will,  but it would be welcome if you at least offered some form of apology to my teenage colleagues and at the very least provide the names of the MPs that were “appalled" so that I can write to them also and explain to them how they are alienating themselves from my generation.

If you do choose to respond I would be happy to post your reply as a guest blog so that you have the opportunity to have your say.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards

Findlay Wilde