Following yesterday’s news that Kildrummy Estate gamekeeper George Mutch has been jailed for four months for his raptor-killing criminal activities, a common question we’ve heard is, ‘Will there now be a vicarious liability prosecution?’
We think that there is the potential for a prosecution, although obviously we’re not privy to any evidence that the Crown might have available when they make a decision whether to proceed or not. We’ll just have to be patient and see what happens.
Let’s assume the Crown does decide that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, and that it would be in the public interest to prosecute, then the question becomes, ‘Who would be charged?’
That will depend on who was in the chain of command above Mutch and what managerial responsibilities they had at the time he committed his crimes (see here for our interpretation of how vicarious liability works). For example, if there was a Head Gamekeeper then perhaps he/she might be the one charged. If there was an Estate Factor then perhaps he/she might be the one charged. Perhaps there wasn’t anyone in a hierarchical managerial role between Mutch and the landowner, in which case, the landowner may be the one charged. But in this case, that might be a bit difficult.
Why? Have a read of Andy Wightman’s brilliant blog here and you’ll understand!