A few updates on some of the questions we asked yesterday following the conviction of Scottish gamekeeper James O’Reilly (see here)….
1. We asked the Cardross Estate whether O’Reilly was still employed as a gamekeeper on their estate. They have issued the following statement:
CARDROSS ESTATE REFUTES WILDLIFE CRIME ALLEGATIONS
(Issued on behalf of Cardross Estate)
Cardross Estate today issued the following statement after the conviction and sentencing of a gamekeeper at Stirling Sheriff Court on offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
Sir Archie Orr-Ewing, owner of Cardross Estate, said: “The reputation of the estate has been unjustly tarnished by the publicity around these court proceedings. The estate does not have any involvement whatsoever in the sporting management of the land in question. The area of land where these offences occurred is let on a long-term lease to a third party who has full rights and responsibilities for the management of sporting activity. The gamekeeper is employed by the third party and has never been employed by the estate.
“Having co-operated fully with the authorities during their investigation and having been asked to be a prosecution witness, I am bitterly disappointed that the Crown Office did not see fit to clarify the estate’s position in its public statement following the case.
“Cardross Estate is an estate that takes its land managcment responsibilities very seriously and is a business focused on the local community and the delivery of sustainable rural enterprise. In particular, we are committed to contributing to the tourism offering of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.”
According to some media outlets, O’Reilly no longer works on the Cardross Estate and some claim he no longer works in the gamekeeping industry.
2. We asked the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association whether O’Reilly was a member of the SGA, and if so, has he now been booted out. They have issued the following statement, which seems to carefully avoid answering the question:
Responding to the sentencing of a former gamekeeper, who used an illegal gin trap to catch a buzzard, a spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “This is the first we have heard about this case but, as an organisation, we are appalled. These actions have no place in modern gamekeeping and show ignorance of the legal requirements which are involved in being in the profession. They are an affront to all those who advocate high standards and take their responsibilities seriously and with care.”
Actually, O’Reilly’s criminal activities didn’t show ignorance of the legal requirements; according to the press statement issued by the Crown Office yesterday, O’Reilly had undertaken the snaring course (run by either GWCT or SGA) legally required for anyone wanting to set snares in Scotland. He’d passed the course so he wasn’t ignorant, he just chose to blatantly disregard the law.
We’re still interested in whether O’Reilly was an SGA member at the time he committed these offences. If you’re also interested, you too can email them again: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. We asked Scottish Land & Estates whether the Cardross Estate was a member of their organisation and if so, had it now been booted out.
They haven’t yet made a public statement, although they did respond to a private email from one of our blog readers by saying that the Cardross Estate resigned from their organisation in 2012.
4. We asked Environment Minister Dr Aileen Mcleod when the Scottish Government will publish the recently completed Wildlife Crime Penalties Review, in light of the pathetic sentence given to O’Reilly for his barbaric crimes. One of her civil servants has issued an acknowledgement email, saying someone will respond soon.
On a related note, there’s an article here with further details about why the Sheriff didn’t give O’Reilly a more fitting punishment. It includes a suggestion from O’Reilly’s defence agent that the gamekeeper was ‘under pressure from above’. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Crown Office decides to go for a vicarious liability prosecution.