Criminal pole-trapper is gamekeeper on Mossdale Estate

pole trapThis won’t come as any surprise to anyone, but it has now been confirmed that the man given a police caution for setting illegal pole traps on a grouse moor on the Mossdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is……wait for it….a gamekeeper from the Mossdale Estate.

How do we know? Because the Moorland Association has said so.

In a rather late public statement (probably issued after coming under considerable pressure to say something), the Moorland Association says the unnamed 23-year old is a ‘junior employee’ of the Mossdale Estate.

By the way, the name of this individual has not been publicised, and nor can it be (hence the pixelated photo from the RSPB in previous articles about this crime) because he is protected by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (see here for a good explanation). This Act’s basic premise is that after a period of x years post-conviction (depending on the type of crime committed – typically five years for someone convicted of a wildlife crime), the conviction can be ignored and need not be divulged (with one or two exceptions). If somebody does then publish information about the individual’s conviction, they may be subject to libel damages, but only if the primary motive for publishing the information was malicious. What’s amazing about this legislation in this particular case is that if an individual receives a police caution, that caution is considered immediately ‘spent’, which means that the individual cannot be publicly named in relation to his crime, even immediately after his admission of guilt! It gives a whole new meaning to the term police protection.

Anyway, back to that statement from the Moorland Association. Here it is:

Disgust at use of illegally set traps on posts

3rd June 2016

Chairman of the Moorland Association, Robert Benson, has today issued the following statement:

We agree with the RSPB and others expressing disgust about the use of illegally set traps on posts. This behaviour could result in indiscriminate capture of wildlife and prolonged suffering. It was rightly outlawed in 1904 and these is no place for it in 21st Century moorland management. There are perfectly good legal and targeted predator control measures available to protect ground nesting birds at this time of year, not least through the licensing system.

The owner of the estate where this gamekeeper worked is a member of the Moorland Association. He has made it clear that neither he nor his head gamekeeper knew anything of this illegal and totally unacceptable activity by a junior employee. The employee who set the traps has been suspended and, as a result of having accepted a police caution for his action, now carries a criminal record and has lost his right to own firearms.


The first paragraph is a commendable condemnation of illegal pole-trapping. The problem is, whether it was said with sincerity or not, many of us don’t believe it’s worth the paper it’s written on. It’s clear from this case alone that whatever the Moorland Association thinks, it has little influence over what actually happens on a grouse moor.

What would be more convincing is if the Moorland Association expelled any of its members on whose grouse moor this illegal practice had been detected. Now THAT would be a more credible display of zero tolerance for illegal raptor persecution, wouldn’t it?

But no. Instead we get a feeble explanation that the grouse moor owner and his head gamekeeper knew nothing about the illegal activity taking place on that moor. And that, it seems, is enough justification for the grouse moor owner to remain a member of the club. Does that indicate a Moorland Association policy of zero tolerance to you? It doesn’t to us.

And what action has the grouse moor owner taken against his criminal employee who has already admitted ‘illegal and totally unacceptable’ behaviour? He’s just suspended him. He hasn’t fired him, he’s JUST SUSPENDED HIM.

That tells you everything you need to know about the grouse-shooting industry.

Please sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting HERE

We’re interested in finding out whether this criminal gamekeeper is / was a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. Let’s ask them. Emails to: info@nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

24 Responses to “Criminal pole-trapper is gamekeeper on Mossdale Estate”

  1. 1 michael gill
    June 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    suspended? Net even sacked? How can we find out is it’s suspended with or without pay? How can we find out if he’s back working there in a month or so?

  2. 2 against feudalism
    June 3, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    ” The owner and the head gamekeeper knew nothing “…. Aye right !

    The boy should be in court facing jail, as should his boss !

    The traps, and posts should be check to ascertain if raptors have previously been killed with them, and fresh charges brought.

    The estate should have been raided, xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    Whoever made the decision, in the police force, to issue a ‘caution’, should loose their job.

    xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

    ALL subsidies must be stopped to this estate NOW. Why are criminals being funded out of the public purse?

    This does not put prince charles in a good light, I hope he sees that.

  3. 3 Chris Roberts
    June 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    It would be poetic justice if this young CRIMINAL GAMEKEEPER got his leg caught in an illegal man trap.

  4. 5 Secret Squirrel
    June 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    “The owner of the estate where this gamekeeper worked is a member of the Moorland Association. He has made it clear that neither he nor his head gamekeeper knew anything of this illegal and totally unacceptable activity by a junior employee. The employee who set the traps has been suspended and, as a result of having accepted a police caution for his action, now carries a criminal record and has lost his right to own firearms.”

    How is a 23 year old going to KNOW about an illegal trap, yet alone have access to one. And how many junior employees are allowed to wander randomly about an estate with a firearm setting traps willy-nilly on conveniently located posts (which look older than he does)

    Stink about this one.

    • 6 lothianrecorder
      June 3, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      It seems we are also being asked to believe he took the initiative to get those great big posts up on the moor, all by himself, and no-one noticed?! Does the head gamekeeper never look round his own moor then, the posts are fairly obvious? They really make themselves a laughing stock, if it weren’t so serious, by denials which totally lack credibility and are clearly being done simply in futile attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility. Respect and trust can only start when people are prepared to tell the truth…

      • 7 Jack Snipe
        June 4, 2016 at 3:26 am

        A gamekeeper once explained to me that the reason they set up poles across a moor was “to encourage Short-eared Owls.” Believe that, you’ll believe anything.

        • 8 heclasu
          June 5, 2016 at 5:09 pm

          I believe it Jack – they put up the poles to attract the owls and then, when the owls have got used to using them, they put the traps in.

  5. 9 Simon Tucker
    June 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I wrote to the PCC of North Yorkshire yesterday and got a response by return. To cut a long story short: the PCC is powerless to intervene on a single case but has made wildlife crime a priority. What is important is that I was told that the caution is being reviewed by the police – so there is a chance that the decision to caution could be overturned and it could still end up in court.

    Let’s hope that is the case.

    When Allen Lambert was let off with a lap on the wrist for killing nine buzzards and one Sparrowhawk, a complaint to the Rural Payments Agency saw them lose nearly £200k in subsidy: the only thing will make these criminal employers take notice.

  6. 10 Gerard Hobley
    June 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Yeah the My-land association.

  7. 11 steve macsweeney
    June 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Email sent.
    I am expecting a severe review of his conviction.

  8. June 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    If the shooting industry is to live up to their oft-repeated platitudes then his employers have no choice other than summary dismissal without references. After all, he not only broke the law whilst in their employ but also did so in a manner that brought his employers into great disrepute (if we are to believe the industry’s PR). In reality, l suspect that even if he is sacked, favours will be called in and he’ll promptly be re-employed on the estate of a chum. You can imagine the telephone conversation ….. Unfortunately, as we don’t know his name we’ll be none the wiser.

  9. 13 Mike Mills
    June 3, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Can anyone think of an outcome which would allow greater damage limitation for the estate, and Moorland Association. It wouldn’t exactly take rocket science to dream up this story as the best scenario allowing for a hypothetical suspension and then back to work with a “Phew lad , you nearly dropped us in it that time! Now take a bit more care next time.”

    • 14 Merlin
      June 4, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Mike with respect this young man has been left out to hang by his employers, there is no way on God’s earth has this young man gone out on his own accord and set these traps. No way at 23 can he be classed as a “junior” gamekeeper and there is no way that anyone on this blog would want damage limitation for this Estate, my own opinions are perhaps a bit out of touch with most on this blog for I would actually prefer a French style revolution bringing back madame Guillotine and get rid of the ignorant so and so’s, I do think some of the Scottish Lads no were I am coming from but I’ll leave that point for the moment. As a countryman I have hunted with Hawks, dogs, Ferrets and gun. I now hunt with a camera and notepad and get far more enjoyment, google Sam Hobsons web page of Goshawks in Berlin and his pictures of Peregrines in Bristol, you might start to understand where I am coming from, this is what the minority who shoot grouse and even pheasants are denying us from seeing, on here we are sick of hearing the same old lame excuses, another bad apple etc, his employers and the Moorland Asses are letting a young lad take the rap for this, shame on them but as you put it yourself, lets not bother about justice lets talk about “damage limitation for the Estate” one question, who told the young lad to give himself up?

  10. 15 Dylanben
    June 3, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    There is something very peculiar going on here. They’re treating this individual like a youngster who doesn’t know right from wrong. HE IS 23 YEARS OLD! He might be regarded as a ‘junior keeper’ or ‘under keeper’ or whatever, but he’s surely old enough and sufficiently knowledgeable to know that setting pole-traps is against the law. Why are the Police treating him so leniently as well as protecting him and his identity. Why is he getting such preferential treatment.? What deal was struck, and with whom, before he voluntarily attended Richmond Police Station?

    I hope that ACC Amanda Oliver gets to the bottom of this when she returns from leave. I’m ashamed to think that it’s my own local Police Force which has made North Yorkshire a laughing stock here! It’s bad enough the region having the worst wildlife persecution record in the UK, without self-inflicted blows such as this.

  11. 16 heclasu
    June 3, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    ‘Right lad, here are the traps so off you go…Don’t get caught now ‘coz if you are we’ll say we no nothing about it and you’ll be on your own’…I don’t know what is the most disgusting, putting he traps out in the first place or xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  12. 17 Jack Snipe
    June 4, 2016 at 3:48 am

    I hold no sympathy whatsoever for anyone who chooses gamekeepering as their trade, but some comments on here come across as if from the “hang ’em and flog ’em” brigade. The whole issue of shooting and “wildlife management” is an institution which requires to be understood in a deeper cultural context. At one time I had the confidence of a leading grouse moor manager – an “international expert,” no less – who enlightened me in their way of thinking. Not that many will find this surprising, but he told me that he would “never tolerate a harrier” on any of his moors, and made it clear to his keepers that he didn’t want to know their methods, just wanted them to understand that the birds should be “dealt with” whenever they appeared. In my experience gamekeepers belong to a range of personality types, some seeming quite reasonable, but others foul-mouthed and aggressive towards anyone they suspect of interfering with their lives. However they all have a connection with each other and are basically blood-thirsty bastards, no matter how much they like to promote themselves as guardians of the countryside. We know they’re extremely careful in how they conceal the true nature of their business, which is why they’re so difficult to catch in the act of lawbreaking. However we need to remember that the gamekeepers are only part of a bigger problem, which is the arrogance of a very prosperous and wealthy sector of society who are a law unto themselves. The only solution is to end grouse shooting forthwith (okay, easier said than done), before tackling the whole sick hobby of killing and destroying our wildlife for some sort of perverted pleasure. The sort of compromise being sought by the RSPB will ultimately get us absolutely nowhere.

  13. 18 jean
    June 4, 2016 at 8:13 am

    He has made it clear that neither he nor his head gamekeeper knew anything of this illegal and totally unacceptable activity by a junior employee

    Of course they didn’t!

    They now themselves in a difficult position. If they do the junior employee he may just decide to squeal about what exactly was going on on the estate and what the junior employees were being instructed to do.

    If the police and nwcu really do treat raptor persecution as a wildlife crime priority they would seek to exploit this……..but they wont.

    Another example of how wildlife crime is given lip service.

    No ones is fooled anymore

  14. 19 janeymacmad
    June 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Ditto the above from Jack Snipe. Many years ago we heard in the Forest of Bowland the now retired game keeper of His Disgrace saying he wouldn’t stop until all hen harriers were removed. Could he have passed his superior wit and wisdom down to a junior gamekeeper??/

  15. 20 janeymacmad
    June 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Dear RPUK, Would it be appropriate for us name the owner of said estate via social media or would it be sub judice?

  16. 21 heclasu
    June 5, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Wonder if he underwent training at that establishment so lauded by the BBC’s Countryfile?

  17. 22 Me
    April 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    From what I have read on this I presume the ” gamekeeper ” has a previous conviction of some kind. If this is the case who on earth ” qualified ” him as being in a position to hold a Firearms Certificate, and also, how do we know that the firearm ( or may be its a toy rifle that he got from the local toy shop so he looks the part !!!! ) he has slung over his shoulder is registered to him. Have the police ask him to bring in any firearm that is registered to
    him to compare it with the one in the photo ? Or does English Law protect him, and his employees, from the use of photographic evidence ?
    Yet another Independent State of the United Kingdom getting away with criminal activity when ever and where every they want on their so called ” land ”

    [Ed: there’s no evidence to suggest this gamekeeper has a previous conviction]

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