Brian’s Newsnight appearance discussing ‘Cecil The Lion’


Brian May & Rosamund Urwin discuss ‘Cecil The Lion’ Newsnight 25082015 – PART TRANSCRIPT BELOW

Evan Davis led BBC2 Newsnight report on the killing of ‘Cecil The Lion’, with a slant on whether social media facilitates overreaction. Brian May, Queen guitarist, and Rosamund Urwin, columnist with London Standard were on hand to discuss. Brian opened the subject of trophy hunting to the wider issue of the abuses of animals taking place, including foxes, badgers and animal experimentation. He felt social media enabled people to know that others feel the same as they do, and to speak with one voice and demand change to attitudes and the law. [Also on BBC iPlayer till 23 Sep here)

By Jen Tunney

EVAN DAVIS: Also tonight – we look back to the killing of Cecil The Lion. Did we overreact? Is social media to blame? Brian May thinks not.


What did you think of the mob, Brian?

BRIAN MAY: I object to your tone, actually, and that’s why I came – you invited me in – but I object to the fact that for once, the world actually did get up and expressed its outrage at something which was despicable. And this, the internet to me is just hear say – it’s just amplified. It’s nothing new here. For once people got up and said we don’t accept this as the way people should carry on, and I am actually disappointed that you take the view that it’s something we should apologise for. I don’t want you minimising, I don’t want you sanitising.

This animal was caused to suffer and it’s the tip of a huge iceberg. There are animals everywhere being abused by people at the moment, and this opened it up. People are now asking the questions. We may, thanks to this, have a “Cecil’s Law”. We should have a “Cecil’s Law” which forbids the import of any trophies from any country, and we should stop trophy hunting in this country too.

EVAN: About the specific point about the hounding of the man. I mean he’s not the only the only hunter is he? He was doing…

BRIAN: I don’t like hounding anyone to death. I don’t think that’s decent behaviour. I can understand people’s outrage. This guy obviously has a wife and a family [indistinct – we don’t want to] – penalise them. At the same time if a person commits crime, which I believe he probably did, he has to be called to task. I mean that’s the way the world works. He has to properly apprehended

EVAN: Can I take it that your sort of view of how policy works or how social movements work here, is that you’ve focussed on an example, so that there are two lions being killed a day. We don’t make a fuss about the others.

BRIAN: Well we DO make a fuss. I think it applies to everything. it applies to foxes and badgers and everything, you know. There are so many animals all around us being abused at the moment, and what’s wrong is the mentality that tells people, ‘Oh, animals don’t matter. We can abuse them, we can experiment on, and we can kill them for fun, for sport. That’s all despicable, and I think what happened with this particular thing, wasn’t conscious from any of us, but it came, it arrived. There was an animal that everybody cared about, and he epitomised what’s wrong with our attitude to animals.


BRIAN: You’re just [looking] at one side of it, aren’t you. The other side of it is that people are conscious and becoming more conscious. People didn’t know that these animals were actually bred to be taken pot shots at. I mean, it’s disgusting. These animals are bred in captivity, they’re shot at in the cage. Sometimes they’re drugged so they can’t get away. The same as people breed foxes for sport in this country. It’s all despicable. It needs to change. So I’m sorry about the guy. I think he’s probably, you know, I’m not to say whether he’s guilty or he isn’t – it looks like he’s guilty, so there has to be some kind of punishment, or whatever.

ROSAMUND: That’s for the Law to do.

BRIAN: Absolutely…. but I wouldn’t concentrate – I would say some good will come of this and think social media, just as you say, good comes of it, bad comes of it.


BRIAN: There’s a lot of truth in that, and I think it was interesting this broke out of the… I mean I feel I talk to the same people the whole time – it’s preaching the converted, but this actually broke. This did. I mean, we use Twitter to good effect and we galvanise people to care about the fox hunting issue, which is why we narrowly escaped being the first country in the world to bring back a blood sport in the 21st century. People cared enough to make a difference and it was Twitter that did it. It can be abused. Of course it can, but it can do a lot of good too.