On 1st October 2014, gamekeeper Allen Lambert from the Stody Estate in Norfolk was found guilty of poisoning 10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk, which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013. He was also convicted of storing banned pesticides & other items capable of preparing poisoned baits (a ‘poisoner’s kit’), and a firearms offence (see here and here).
On 6th November 2014, Lambert was sentenced. Even though the magistrate acknowledged that Lambert’s crimes passed the custody threshold, he only received a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and nine poisoned buzzards (suspended for one year), and was ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
On 5th October 2014, we blogged about the millions of pounds worth of subsidies that had been awarded to Stody Estate in recent years (see here) and we encouraged blog readers to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to ask whether Stody Estate would receive a financial penalty in the form of subsidy withdrawal for being in breach of the terms & conditions of their subsidy-fest.
On 10th October 2014, the RPA responded by saying they would consider what action could be taken against Stody Estate (see here).
Then it all went quiet.
In December 2014, one of our blog readers submitted an FoI to the RPA to ask what was happening. In January 2015, the RPA responded by saying they ‘weren’t able to provide a meaningful response’ but said they would take action if it was found to be appropriate to do so (see here).
Six months on, we thought it was time for an update so an FoI was sent to the RPA to ask whether they had implemented a subsidy penalty. This is their response:
Dear XXXXX XXXXX
Thank you for your email dated 5 July 2015 regarding Stody Estate.
Cross Compliance rules only apply to recipients of Single Payment Scheme or certain Rural Development scheme payment in the year in which a cross compliance breach is found.
The person prosecuted for the offences mentioned in your e-mail is not a recipient of either of these types of payment. Therefore before RPA can take further action, it will be necessary to determine whether there [sic] a link between this person and a subsidy recipient and, if there is, whether that recipient can be considered liable for the actions of the person who committed the breaches.
Identifying whether the person prosecuted is linked to a subsidy recipient will form a key part of our investigations.
Should you have any further queries please contact us again quoting reference number XXXXX
Customer Service Centre, Operations
This is all very interesting. The mass illegal poisoning of birds of prey took place on Stody Estate and a Stody Estate employee, gamekeeper Allen Lambert, was convicted of these crimes and several others. But the Rural Payments Agency is still trying to determine whether there is a link between Lambert and the Stody Estate. Eh?
It’s not very convincing is it?
Perhaps the RPA should have a read of the judge’s comments about the relationship between Lambert and his (now former) employer – see here.