The executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance has resigned from the Lead Ammunition Group (LAG), citing the group’s “abuses of process and evidence” that “render the group’s work so flawed it can never reach any scientific conclusions.”
Sir Barney White-Spunner represented the Countryside Alliance and the shooting industry while serving in the LAG, a group founded in 2010 to advise the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the possible risks of lead ammunition. Other organisations represented in the LAG include BASC, the RSPB and the Gun Trade Association.
Sir Barney, who had served the group since 2013, gave his resignation after the chairman, John Swift, circulated a draft report that Sir Barney described as “far from a reflection of the LAG’s discussions and draws incorrect conclusions from that evidence which the LAG has agreed.”
“More seriously,” Sir Barney said, “many of those conclusions are based on evidence that the LAG has simply not agreed and were presented to the rest of the group as a fait accompli.”
In his letter of resignation, which is available to view in full on the Countryside Alliance website, Sir Barney accuses the chairman of using unsound evidence from unqualified sources. Sir Barney also takes issue with the majority of the LAG not being properly consulted or heeded regarding the composition of the report draft, saying it is “based almost entirely on the opinions of two people, both of whom have previously stated their intention to have lead shot banned.”
This news comes after the release of emails in February between unidentified LAG members. One email said, prior to the completion of any report, that “the LAG process will point with complete certainty to the toxic nature of lead ammunition.” At the time, Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Countryside Alliance said, “The LAG has now been considering evidence for over five years and we have been concerned about the process for some time.”
Sir Barney’s resignation leaves shooting without an effective representative in the group – but BASC said it supported his decision. It’s also understood that Sir Barney was not the only member of the group to resign.
Sir Barney said, “Neither I nor the Countryside Alliance will be walking away from this issue. Given the failure of the LAG process we will be consulting with the shooting community, other representative shooting groups and public bodies as to the best way to proceed.”