Richard Benyon MP, the DEFRA Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, doesn’t see any need to follow Scotland’s lead of introducing vicarious liability to make landowners legally responsible for incidents of raptor persecution that occur on their estates.
On 30 June 2011, Labour MP Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire) asked the following question: Only two weeks ago, a gamekeeper was convicted for illegally killing birds of prey in my constituency. Is it not time to think about introducing a vicarious liability offence to ensure that landowners and estate managers supervise their gamekeepers more closely and more effectively?
Richard Benyon’s response: There are very good laws in place to punish the illegal killing of any animal. If they are not being effectively enforced, they must be and we will take steps to make sure that happens. However, this is a good opportunity to applaud gamekeepers for the wonderful work they do in providing excellent biodiversity across our countryside.
It was reported in the Telegraph last year that Mr Benyon is a ‘keen grouse-shooter’ (see here).
Perhaps Mr Benyon hasn’t looked at the national poisoning statistics of the last few years. If he had, he couldn’t have failed to notice how many of these confirmed incidents were now listed as ‘closed’ before any enforcement action was taken! (see here for 2008-2011 database).
Perhaps we should all be writing to Mr Benyon, to point him in the direction of these official statistics and to ask him what ‘steps he will take’ to ensure that effective law enforcement is taking place? Here’s his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org