Below is the letter that I wrote to The Independent, which was published online today.
Michael McCarthy consistently writes with knowledge and passion on natural history. Would that his knowledge of history were as consistent. His account (13 June ) of the history of the campaign to save the whales was distorted by his passion for a romantic story.
It was Friends of the Earth, not Greenpeace, that led the campaign for a moratorium on whaling in the early Seventies, well before the foundation of Greenpeace in Britain. It was the 300,000 postcards from children to the Prime Minister, the successful campaign to ban the import of whale products, the two demonstrations in Trafalgar Square and the inflatable whale that sank in the Thames outside a meeting of the International Whaling Commission that persuaded the British Government to lead the call for a moratorium.
The spectacular and courageous efforts of Greenpeace on the high seas certainly played a part in getting the moratorium agreed and perhaps an even bigger part in keeping it in place. But, the main, if less spectacular and easily noticed work was done by researchers and lobbyists from FoE and many others in the drab meeting rooms that journalists find so boring.