Former Love Island contestant Ollie Williams has denied he shot any of the animals depicted in the controversial trophy-hunting photos which appeared online.
Williams left the ITV2 series this week after three days in the villa, telling his co-stars that he had decided to quit because he realised he still loves his ex-girlfriend.
His exit from the show came after a petition was launched online to have him removed from the villa following the emergence of the trophy-hunting pictures, and so far there have been 576 complaints made to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom about his inclusion in the programme.
Williams, 23, said in a statement: “Having left the Love Island house I have become aware of the press stories circulating in the UK. I would like to make a number of comments on the various claims and accusations.
“I had no knowledge of the stories until I had left the Love Island villa and all cast members are unaware of any news stories while they are on the programme.
“My reasons for leaving Love Island are as communicated on the show.
“I did not shoot any of the animals shown in the photographs, nor have I ever shot as a trophy hunter.”
Williams added: “I did volunteer to take part in the conservation and anti-poaching programme in Mozambique, a part of which involves old or sick animals being culled. I was there as an observer.
“The Cornish Sporting Agency was set up in 2017 and has never traded.
“I feel very passionately about conservation and will continue to support sustainable conservation causes around the globe. These benefit the natural world and the animals which live within it, even if certain elements appear controversial when viewed out of context.
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“As I am no longer in Love Island, I will comment no further on this issue.”
According to Companies House, Williams is the sole director of Cornish Sporting Agency, registered at Lanhydrock, Cornwall, which lists the nature of the business as “hunting” and “trapping”.
The winter series of Love Island started on Sunday and many viewers posted messages on social media saying they did not think Williams deserved his spot in the villa.
A petition on the website Change.org – entitled Remove Ollie Williams From Winter Love Island For Trophy Hunting! – received more than 40,000 signatures, and was supported by wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham.
Following Williams’ departure from the show, local police have confirmed they are investigating reports of threats made to him.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said in a statement: “Police are currently investigating alleged threats made to a former contestant on ITV2 show Love Island.
“Inquiries are ongoing at this time.”
Williams’ exit from Love Island aired in Wednesday night’s episode.
He told his co-stars that, having grown close to Paige Turley, he realised he has still got feelings for his ex-partner.
He said: “I’m being dishonest to myself, I’m being dishonest to Paige and I’m being dishonest to you boys and everyone else.”