A Somerset MP has accused badger cull activists of resorting to “gutter tactics” after a death threat text was sent to him and his family, warning they would be culled.
Avon and Somerset Police is investigating after Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger received a threatening text message from an anti-cull activist.
Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has previously spoken out in favour of culling badgers as part of efforts to combat bovine TB.
He has also given his backing for culling to be rolled out to other counties where TB is rife.
Mr Liddell-Grainger has decided to release the content of the text message to the public.
The full text reads: “Hello just like to say i would warn you what you say in future.
“You bunch of animal killers you saying the under class need to get a job i think you should watch what you say sunshine because i knew where you and your family live.
“We will come find you and your family then you realise what a cull is. Don’t cross paths with me i will throw brick in you ugly little face of yours. You such dirty venom toff.
“Watch your back and keep your silly mouth shut or close it for you understand. Little weasel man and all you other toff posh idiots you laughing stock. Just be warned if you want to be safe.”
Responding to the threat, Mr Liddell-Grainger said it would not weaken his support for the culls.
“I am certainly not going to be intimidated by the rabble – the all-purpose agitators who turn up to demonstrate about everything whether it’s badger-culling or a new nuclear power station,” the MP told the Somerset County Gazette.
“As this message clearly demonstrates, they are riddled with class envy – and not the sort of people with whom one can ever have a well-informed and rational debate about badgers and TB.
“The writer needs to get a life and get a job – and from the look of it get a bit of education, too.”
It is not the first time that pro-badger activists have targeted the MP. In 2013, they dumped a dead badger on his doorstep.
“At least there was a plus side to that: I put it on my compost heap and as a consequence we had a wonderful year for roses,” said Mr Liddell-Grainger.
“Unfortunately you cannot do the same with a text message, even though its contents suggest it might be just the thing for the garden.
“Sadly this is just the kind of intimidation dozens of my constituents have had to put up with, most of them hard-working farmers whose only mission is to keep the nation fed despite the ravages of a disease – and a disease, let’s not forget, which was allowed to rampage out of control because Labour refused to do anything to curb it.”
The MP said the text message revealed the real nature of activists who were trying to disrupt a lawful culling operation aimed at the TB epidemic.
“Kerry McCarthy, the Shadow Defra secretary, always talks as though she’s addressing the nation from the moral high ground when she speaks of her opposition to culling,” he said.
“But these threats show the true colours of those she is aligning herself with – people who are prepared to sink to the gutter, and even lower, in pursuit of their perverse little campaign.”
It is not the first time that anti-cull activists have targeted prominent industry leaders over their views on the badger cull. Former Defra ministers Owen Paterson and David Heath, ex-NFU leader Peter Kendall and BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson have all been targeted.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We are aware of this incident and will be investigating it further and working with the office of MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.”
The third year of the government’s pilot cull of badgers in west Somerset is due to end next week.