This just beggars belief.
Have a read of this blog (here) written by Senior RSPB Investigations Officer, Guy Shorrock. It tells the story of how he and a colleague discovered a cache of poisons hidden underground in a small forestry plantation on Hurst Moor, a driven grouse moor which forms part of the East Arkengarthdale Estate, just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A suspect was identified from camera footage obtained by the RSPB and North Yorkshire police paid him a visit.
During that police visit, a number of items were seized including an electronic calling device that contained a series of raptor calls.
Despite the best efforts and intentions of the RSPB investigators, North Yorkshire Police and Natural England, working in some pretty harsh conditions, the Crown Prosecution Service didn’t want to proceed with a prosecution due to some procedural concerns. Nevertheless, North Yorkshire Police seized the gamekeeper’s firearms and revoked his firearms and shotgun certificates. That seemed perfectly reasonable, especially in light of Dr Colin Shedden’s evidence yesterday to a Scottish parliamentary committee that “any hint of illegal activity can lead to the right to hold a [shotgun] certificate, and the ability to shoot, being withdrawn” (see here).
However, the gamekeeper at East Arkengarthdale Estate decided to appeal this decision and get his firearms returned. This was a remarkable move because undoubtedly, the evidence that the police had based their decision upon would now be heard in open court! And indeed, that is what happened yesterday.
According to Guy’s blog, it was apparently accepted in court that this gamekeeper had placed the poisons in that underground stash on that grouse moor. Nevertheless, the judge decided that this gamekeeper could have his firearms returned and his firearms certificates reinstated.
Let’s remind ourselves again of Dr Colin Shedden’s evidence to a parliamentary committee yesterday:
“Shotgun certificate holders are among the most law-abiding sector of society and any hint of illegal activity can lead to the right to hold a certificate, and the ability to shoot, being withdrawn“.
Sorry, Dr Shedden, but the result of yesterday’s court hearing blows the credibility of your evidence right out of the water.
In an ironic twist, Dr Shedden works for BASC. The Arkengarthdale Estate gamekeeper’s defence barrister, Peter Glenser, is also associated with BASC – he’s the current Chairman, having recently been elected following a bit of a fracas at a BASC staff meeting where the police were called in. It struck us as amusing that on one day Dr Shedden is telling a parliamentary committee that shotgun certificate holders are already stringently regulated and their certificates can be revoked “at any hint of illegal activity” (and thus there’s no need for further regulation such as the licensing of gamebird hunting) and then the very next day, his colleague, Peter Glenser, is defending a gamekeeper’s right to keep his shotgun certificate even after admitting to hiding poisons in a secret cache!
You couldn’t make it up.