Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has launched a snap fundraising campaign after he was told he must pay Tesco £86,000 to put his concerns about chicken welfare to the supermarket's shareholders.
The River Cottage presenter wants Tesco to adopt a policy forcing suppliers to improve conditions for birds and is tabling the proposal to the supermarket's annual general meeting.
However, Tesco says that Fearnley-Whittingstall submitted the documents too late - and insisted that is only fair that he should bear the cost of sending the papers to investors. It has given him until Wednesday to come up with the cash.
He is now looking to raise the money through his chickenout.tv website - holding an auction for prizes including a fishing trip and the chef cooking a meal at the winner's home.
In a note to supporters, Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "Tesco has told me that it will only take our resolution to the AGM if I meet the cost of distributing the relevant papers to its shareholders.
"It is entitled to waive this fee, and we have requested that it does so, in the interest of shareholder democracy, but it has declined. In other words, the resolution is dead in the water unless I pay Tesco £86,888 to print and post the papers out to all 269,000 Tesco shareholders.
"I'm going to start the ball rolling by putting £30,000 of my own money into the pot. And, with your help, I'm hoping to raise the rest of the money by selling myself, and my services, as well as by appealing to other Tesco shareholders and supporters of our resolution."
For full details on the auction and the campaign go to www.chickenout.tv/
By Daniel Thomas