Ross-shire Massacre: five months on

It’s been five months since the discovery of 22 dead raptors (16 red kites + 6 buzzards) near Conon Bridge in Ross-shire – an incident we have termed the Ross-shire Massacre.

Since then, we’ve learned that 16 of these birds (12 red kites + 4 buzzards) were killed after ingesting an “illegally-held poisonous substance“. That information had to be dragged from Police Scotland in June, following some pretty outrageous allegations from the game-shooting industry (and at least one MSP) that the birds had been ‘accidentally poisoned’ by eating contaminated meat at the Tollie Red Kite Feeding Station.

Other than that, Police Scotland has refused to provide any further information, other than to say last month that the investigation “was continuing“.

In June, a member of the public made an FoI request to SASA (the government lab responsible for undertaking the toxicology anlayses on these birds) to ask for the name of the poison(s) and the name of the species affected, amongst other things. He received a reply from SASA on 30th June and he was told that it wasn’t in the public interest to disclose such information. SASA claimed that the public interest test was “outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that the ongoing police investigation is not jeopardised and that incomplete data are not released“. The member of the public submitted a request for a review of this decision and on 24th July 2014 he received a response from Hugh Dignon, a senior civil servant. Mr Dignon upheld the decision made by SASA and added:

By withholding evidence that might, if prematurely released, prejudice a live investigation, we are maximising the likelihood that a conviction could be secured if a prosecution is taken forward“.

Come on, Hugh! There’s not a chance in hell of getting a prosecution, let alone securing a conviction, so many months after the crime took place. Who are you trying to kid? And since when has releasing the name of a banned poison ever jeopardised a live investigation? Er, that’ll be never. SASA has, for years, routinely published the name of the poisons that were used in crimes that are still subject to on-going investigations – why is this case so different? Why all the cloak and dagger? What’s to hide?

Here’s a screen grab of SASA’s latest poisoning data, which relate to toxicology tests undertaken in the first quarter of 2014. The reference circled in red is the information about the Ross-shire Massacre. SASA has redacted all the detail about the type of poison(s) detected (column 4), whether the incident was ‘abuse/mis-use’ etc (column 6), and they’ve even removed the names of the species they’ve tested – preferring to write ‘various’ instead (column 8). Compare and contrast these redactions to the entry at the top of the image, which relates to a poisoned peregrine found in Strathclyde in February – that case is also an on-going police investigation (ahem) and yet we’re allowed to see the name of the poison (Carbofuran), the type of incident (abuse) and the species affected (peregrine). Astonishing, isn’t it?


For previous posts on the Ross-shire Massacre click here

12 Responses to “Ross-shire Massacre: five months on”

  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    August 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    All very suspicious, looks like they are trying to protect some person or person’s, who are regarded as untouchable and of some influence in society.

  2. 4 Keith Brockie
    August 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Heard it was xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx with poison baits placed round a lambing field, this appears to be in the public domain now!

    [Ed: That’s certainly what Sir John Lister Kaye was claiming at his talk last weekend, but we’re not prepared to publish it here yet…there’s a lot more to it!]

    • 5 Tony Phillips
      August 20, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Mr Ed- now you are talking like SASA! seriously though, should an arrest be expected?

      • August 20, 2014 at 8:26 pm

        No, no arrests expected!

        The difference is, the information that we are withholding is potentially defamatory and concerns an individual who is easily identifiable to anyone who has been following this case. The info that SASA and Police Scotland are withholding is not.

        • 7 Tony Phillips
          August 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

          I see (I think). So potentially defamatory must mean potentially untrue. Which means potentially someone has made it up. So potentially you don’t actually have any information at all. But you say you are not prepared to publish “yet” which means potentially you will publish it, which potentially means it is true. All too much for me!!!!!!

  3. 8 nirofo
    August 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    It all stinks of combined collusion at the highest levels, it seems the person involved is deemed as extremely vulnerable to adverse publicity if the full details of this heinous crime ever become public knowledge, I wonder why, why he is so important ???

  4. 9 Jimmy
    August 20, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Why does disclosing the type of poison used threaten a potential trial?? Sounds like a BS excuse to me

    • 10 dave angel
      August 21, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Two possibilities occur to me, off the top of my head.

      1. If the suspect provided a statement which mentions the type of poison, and this information is not in the public domain, this could provide the corroboration needed to secure a conviction (a self corroborating confession).

      2. If poison is found the suspect could claim it had been planted to discret him/her. That’s less credible if the public don’t know what type of poison has been used.

      I don’t know what benefit there is to the public knowing which poson was used.

  5. 11 Marco McGinty
    August 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve had my concerns about SASA for a while, and this just furthers my suspicions, but I’m prepared to give them a further chance.

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