Chris Packham due to face Maltese court accused of documentary shoot assault

Edinburgh International Book Festival

BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham is due to appear in court on Thursday charged with assault as he filmed a documentary on illegal bird trapping.

The wildlife campaigner was on the Maltese island of Gozo in the Mediterranean making an independent programme when he claimed he and his team were shouted at and shoved.

Packham said he had earlier called police after seeing what he thought was a cage full of birds, including what he believed to be some protected species.

Some hours later he said he became the victim of an assault, but was instead himself charged in relation to the incident.

In a statement on Wednesday his agent said: "Whilst filming an interview on the public roadside, a vehicle appeared and two men jumped out shouting at Chris and his team, shoving them aggressively.

"Whilst Chris and the team stood back, the police joined them. Instead of intervening on behalf of the innocent parties, the police immediately took the side of the aggressors and manhandled Chris and other members of the team off the site."

Tweeting after the incident on Tuesday the presenter said: "Malta! You point out suspected criminals to the police ... and you end up in court!"

In a short video clip explaining what happened he said he had been charged with "using force against any person, with an intent to insult, annoy or hurt them".

He added: "I am completely innocent of these charges. Not only was I the victim of being pushed and jostled around I was also then pushed all the way up the street by a policeman."

He said he is due to appear in court at 9am on Thursday.

Packham is in Malta to film the documentary Malta: Massacre on Migration.