BBC Radio 4 backlash as Stanley Johnson discusses Geronimo the alpaca ‘A new low’

Geronimo: Stanley Johnson discusses alpaca case

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BBC Radio 4’s Today programme invited Stanley Johnson onto the show to discuss Geronimo the alpaca. The animal has made headlines because its owner, Helen Macdonald is refusing the court ruling to have Geronimo euthanised after two positive test results for bovine tuberculosis. Stanley revealed he had spoken with Helen over the weekend about the suggestion the results are “false positives” and backed the campaign to have George Eustice take a closer look at the case. Those listening to the radio station hit out at the comment made by a newsreader that there was “less hard news around” to be discussing. 

The newsreader said: “It’s coming up to three minutes to nine. 

“Geronimo has become probably the best-known alpaca in the country as its owner is battling the threat of execution that hangs over his head as the animal tested positive for TB. 

“Now this is, of course, the kind of story that can take off in August when there is less hard news around but there is a growing list of celebrities supporters who are backing the alpaca and getting him lots of news coverage – that includes the actress Joanna Lumley and the Prime Minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, who has written in The Sun, where he is there Wildlife Reporter, in support of Geronimo and we can talk to him now. Good Morning!” 

“Well, good morning,” Johnson replied. “I’m in the middle of wildlife down in Exmoor now, I just saw a fox out of my window.” 

“So you’re living up to your job description as a wildlife reporter! Now, I know you have spoken to Geronimo’s owner – although I don’t think you’ve met the alpaca yourself – why do you think he deserves a stay of execution?” The BBC Radio 4 reporter continued. 

“Well, I have talked to her, as far as I’m concerned it’s absolutely possible and necessary for the Secretary State of the Environment, George Eustice to have a stay of execution,” Johnson explained. 

“Why? When this animal was tested when it came to England, yes there might have been a positive result – Helen thinks it’s a false positive – that is several years ago and surely, right now, an animal with this disease would not have survived five years, that is for sure. 

“There is a case, surely, to let this lady have one test now – a blood test – surely that’s the right things to do. 

“Not to say, the law must take it’s course, four years ago there was suspicion and that suspicion is to be upheld, no matter what the state of the animal is now.” 

The journalist remarked: “Geronimo has already lost the legal battle for this and as far as we understand, the authorities could come to put down the animal any time now. 

“So, protestors are saying they will try and create a human shield around the farm, there’s even talk of marching on Downing Street for an appeal. Would you be marching up Downing Street for Geronimo?” 

“I don’t think we need to get that far, honestly, I think this is really quite a simple thing to say; this animal should be tested,” Johnson reiterated. 

“She’s been saying that for years, other people are backing her campaign for weeks and there’s been no difference,” the reporter commented. “The Telegraph is speculating whether Carrie Johnson will be using her significant influence – would you be advising her to?” 

“I haven’t seen any of the newspapers because it takes to about half an hour to get to a shop down here,” Johnson said. “But I’m very much of the opinion good sense will prevail. 

“And George Eustice, I can tell you, is a man of impeccable sense, he will see it isn’t reasonable to let a legal judgement which is based on things which happened five years ago, which might not have given the right result -”

Johnson was unable to finish his point as the reporter cut him off with: “Stanley Johnson, we will need to leave it there but thank you very much for joining us this morning.” 

Those listening to the interview took to Twitter to comment. 

One said: “New low for #r4today as they interview the S*n’s “wildlife correspondent” Stanley Johnson about an Alpaca. After all not a lot going on atm – climate catastrophe, Brexit consequences, Covid, Afghanistan etc etc.” 

“I feel like I’m awake but I must be still asleep. I dreamt that  @BBCRadio4 #r4today had Stanley Johnson on in his role as “Wildlife Reporter for The S*n” talking about a f*****g llama. Just as well there are no other problems in the world or ya know, ACTUAL NEWS,” someone argued. 

Another wrote: “#r4today this AM finished a call with reporter in California about the raging fires, 10 mins before a devastating report on climate change about to be released. They go to Stanley blooming Johnson about an alpaca stating that it’s a slow news period.  Which planet are you on???” 

“Jesus…Stanley Johnson speaks on the alpaca…I’m  agog…#r4today has finally finished scraping the bottom of the barrel – his plumby, irrelevant voice normally extolling his own selfish views should only be heard on Brillo TV,” one mentioned. 

Another tweet read: “#r4today Stanley Johnson talking about an alpaca.  Good thing there’s not any news going on.” 

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