It came as some surprise last weekend to find that Queen musician Brian May had been leasing the stalking rights on his land. The news was broken by the Sunday Times, who found that he was receiving payments of £750 a year for the right to shoot deer on his Middlemarsh estate. Many other papers picked up on this story because of its significance since Dr May has become a figurehead of the animal rights movement.
This is more than just irony. Brian May is the self styled saviour of animals. Not a TV, radio or newspaper interview is complete without the obligatory comment from him “standing up” for the animals. He has vehemently opposed any form of culling, but was most vocal in the recent case of the proposed badger cull. The fact that a millionaire rock star raised his own dwindling profile at the expense of dairy farmers on the brink of collapse and bankruptcy is hard enough to accept. The fact that he did this having profited from a deer cull on his own land is indefensible.
Dr May stood shoulder to shoulder with the RSPCA and other animal rights groups to oppose the badger cull at all costs, including boycotting milk from already pressed farmers. As I reported last week, he also endorsed the policy that would make public the names of all those involved in culling, regardless of the consequences. In a cruel twist of poetic justice, May has been the one whose name was made public for allowing shooting to take place on his land.
Now the tables have been turned, Brain May appears to prefer secrecy about what happens on his own land. The word hypocrite hardly does justice to the level of duplicity displayed, but at least he must start to comprehend how the affected farmers feel.