23
Nov
16

Statement from Wildlife Estates Scotland on membership status of Newlands Estate

Those of you who’ve been following the long drawn-out saga of prosecutions relating to the wildlife crime that took place on Newlands Estate, Dumfriesshire in 2015 will know that we’ve been asking questions of various organisations associated with this estate.

One of those questions has been about the membership status of the Newlands Estate in the ‘Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES)’ scheme, administered by Scottish Land & Estates. Since Newlands Estate gamekeeper Billy Dick’s conviction (for killing a buzzard) was upheld in July this year, we’ve asked this:

‘Will the Newlands Estate’s accredited membership of Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) now be revoked? The conditions of membership of this scheme include: “the requirements to maintain best practice standards of animal welfare and comply with all legal requirements and relevant Scottish codes of practice”. At the time of Mr Dick’s conviction, a spokesperson for WES said the Newlands Estate’s membership and accreditation of WES had been ‘voluntarily suspended’ pending the outcome of legal proceedings. Well, now the gamekeeper’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question?’

Four months on, and thanks to blog readers for writing to WES, the following statement has appeared on the WES website this morning:

wes-statement-newlands

So, Newlands Estate is still a member of WES, albeit in a suspended state. Presumably, WES is waiting to find out whether the allegation of vicarious liability is proven against landowner Andrew Duncan during forthcoming legal proceedings.

That’s an interesting position for WES to take. A wildlife crime did take place on Newlands Estate and a Newlands Estate employee was convicted for it. Why isn’t that sufficient cause for WES to expel Newlands Estate? Two conditions of WES membership were clearly breached (“the requirements to maintain best practice standards of animal welfare and comply with all legal requirements and relevant Scottish codes of practice“). Whether Mr Duncan is subsequently convicted or acquitted of vicarious liability is irrelevant and will not erase these facts.

Let’s imagine, for example, that Mr Duncan is exonerated and WES decides to lift the suspension on membership. WES will still have a wildlife crime estate on its membership list. How does that ‘protect the reputation of its membership, as well as the integrity of accreditation itself’? Here’s a hint, WES: IT DOESN’T.

Other questions we’ve been asking since Newlands Estate gamekeeper Billy Dick’s failed appeal in July 2016 are yet to be answered:

  1. Is/was criminal gamekeeper William (Billy) Dick a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association? The SGA refused to comment on Mr Dick’s membership status at the time, saying they ‘wanted to wait until the legal process had concluded’. Well, now Mr Dick’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question? Emails to: info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk
  2. Will Scottish Land & Estates now expel the Newlands Estate from the ranks of SLE membership? SLE said at the time that Newlands Estate’s membership of SLE had been ‘voluntarily suspended’ pending on-going legal proceedings. Well, now the gamekeeper’s criminal conviction for wildlife offences has been upheld, how about answering the question? Emails to: info@scottishlandandestates.co.uk
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10 Responses to “Statement from Wildlife Estates Scotland on membership status of Newlands Estate”


  1. 1 steve macsweeney
    November 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Have emailed all parties previously with no response. Still, they know we care!!

  2. November 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Another one for the lie detector.
    Ask someone from WES if they stand by
    “the requirements to maintain best practice standards of animal welfare and comply with all legal requirements and relevant Scottish codes of practice”

  3. 3 S TUCKER
    November 23, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Of course they won’t act: it is just blather, paying lip service to the concerns of ordinary people but continuing to harbour apologists for criminals.

    [Ed: comment slightly edited!]

  4. 4 Andrew
    November 23, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    It is statements like this that show the truth as to their attitudes towards predators and the criminality associated therewith.
    It’s the reaction (or lack of) by politicians to such statements that show the truth as to their attitudes towards predators and the criminality associated therewith.

    Likewise the apathetic media.
    It makes you sick.

  5. November 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Suspended after guilt is proven? That clearly means that breaking the fundamental conditions of membership is not a reason to kick them out. On the basis of this standard, their entire scheme is meaningless.
    I think that drug taking in athletics is a good analogy. 1. Fail test. 2.suspend. 3. Hearing and guilt. 4 banned.

  6. 6 Northern Diver
    November 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    What interests me is where is William Dick working now?. Is he still gamekeeping? If so, on which estate? Or has he another “land management” job on another estate. He may have been “let go” from Newlands but what’s to bet some other shooting estate took him on as a favour to Newlands. I’m pretty sure the shooting fraternity will look after him, as he was acting in their interests and also to keep him quiet. He must surely know some pretty incriminating things.

    • 7 against feudalism
      November 23, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      Hmm, and all the other convicted wildlife criminals !! I can’t see a way to stop another estate employing them, after all, in spite of the oft heard cry ” it’s a few bad apples”, we all know that is disingenuous nonsense.

      Perhaps the Scottish government should impose a lifetime ban of holding a shotgun or firearms licence, for wildlife convictions ? That might just make the keepers think twice.

      • November 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

        thats what should happen because otherwise those people just carry on.

      • 9 Greg McShane
        December 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

        Having a licence to practise as a gamekeeper (which should be revoked if convicted of any wildlife crime) would prevent the possibility of someone moving from one estate to another. But the court (or other licencing body) would have to impose that penalty… and the courts and SNH seem to be very reluctant to impose the current penalties available available to them! How rarely do they take away the shotgun licence from convicted gamekeepers! Yet it should be automatic. They take away shotgun licences from dodgy characters who happen to commit ‘urban’ crimes much more readily.

  7. 10 Merlin
    November 23, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    The situation gives a perfect picture of the people we are dealing with, on one hand you have the owner of the estate, he knows the rules of membership, he knows those rules have been broken by a member of his team, yet he still has not taken the decision to resign his membership, clinging on like a parasite
    On the other hand you have 3 spineless organisations not willing to take action against a member who have brought them into disrepute, we saw the same dithering with the owners of the Mossdale estate and the moorland ass before the owners of the mossdale estate finally did the decent thing,one simple question to all involved “have you got any Honour left at all?”


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