THE LYNX UK Trust are making headlines once again, but this time it is for their treatment of the press.

At this week’s public consultation event at Inveraray Parish Church, photographer Paul Paterson was ordered out of the event by organiser Paul O’Donoghue, much to the shock of the attendees, some of whom followed Mr Paterson out in disgust.

The Lynx UK Trust's consultation was advertised as an open public event with the intent of gathering opinions on the Lynx UK Trust’s three proposed reintroduction sites for the species in Scotland.

Mr Paterson, a freelance press photographer who went along to the event to take photos of the gathering, was asked to leave by Paul and Emily O’Donoghue, who firstly accused him of not being a member of the press, despite his press card, and then threatened to involve the police:

“I was neither abusive, nor was I acting in any unlawful manner. A friend went back into the hall to ask if any member of the public was unhappy to having their images taken, all said no,” he stressed.

“I went briefly back into the hall and said: ‘ladies and gentlemen, the organiser has called the police on me, he is stopping the press from attending this open public event.’

"The public at that point voiced their horror at the organisers, and most walked out in disgust,” he stated.

Speaking with The Scottish Farmer the next day, Mr Paterson recalled some of the goings on of the event before his swift exit: “The wife of Dr Paul O’Donoghue, Emily, was very dismissive of the numerous negativity of the public, dismissing all comments from the public and forcing their own opinionated agenda which was very skewed and not put across well.

“Paul O’Donoghue was going on about his eagle reintroduction,” he continued. “He was telling the public that the Isle of Mull is flourishing with tourism at the tune of £5 million, only for one old fella to say ‘that’s rubbish, as the eagles are decimating the lambs and the farmers have had enough of the eagles.”

Attending the event was Appin farmer David Colthart, who very recently shared his own experiences of the issues caused by pests and predation at the NFUS annual conference: “The whole evening, Paul O’Donoghue stuck to the same line, taking little heed for comments from the room – 90% of which were farmers – it was clear he didn’t intend to take on any of our points of view.

“On numerous occasions he was called out for grossly diluting figures on the potential threat of lynx to sheep and was met with criticism when he denied that sea eagles pose any threat to sheep – despite farmers in the room sharing their own experiences,” he continued.

“If we look at figures released by the Norwegian government last year, 20,000 sheep were lost to predation and one third of this was attributed to lynx. Bearing in mind that sheep in Norway are kept in sheds during the winter – here they are out all year – our flocks would be even more vulnerable and lynx have to eat,” stressed Mr Colthart.