Public funds to promote wildlife criminals: tourism minister ducks question

Earlier this month we revealed that public funds were being used to promote the business of a sporting agent who had been convicted of raptor persecution (through being vicariously liable for the crimes of his gamekeeper). We encouraged blog readers to ask Tourism Minister Fiona Hyslop whether this was an appropriate use of tax payers’ money (see here).

One of the Minister’s aides has responded today as follows:

The problem with this response is that it doesn’t answer the question that was asked. That question to the Minister was:

Were you aware that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group [in receipt of public funding from VisitScotland] is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal, and if so, do you think this is an appropriate use of public funds?

And a few days after that question was posed to the Minister, we discovered that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group is also promoting the businesses of Invercauld Estate and Glendye Grouse Moor, where illegally-set traps have recently been found (see here).

So, we’ll be writing again to the Tourism Minister and asking her to please answer the question:

Are you aware that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group, in receipt of public funding from VisitScotland, is promoting the business of a convicted wildlife criminal and that of two estates where illegal activity has been uncovered, and if so, do you think this is an appropriate use of public funds?

We’re also aware that one of our blog readers has contacted his local MSP about this issue (thank you) and his MSP has now written to the Chief Exec of VisitScotland, Malcolm Roughead, to ask for an explanation.

This issue isn’t going away any time soon.


17 Responses to “Public funds to promote wildlife criminals: tourism minister ducks question”

  1. 1 Peter McHugh
    January 26, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Why on Earth should the shooting fraternity need a grant, or be given a grant when they supposedly bring Millions into the economy,
    it Beggers believe.

  2. 2 Tony Warburton MBE
    January 26, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Same old, same old. ‘YES MINISTER’ lives on! She will no doubt send you her answer ‘shortly’ RPUK!!!

  3. January 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    A direct question deserves a direct answer. But there you go …. waffle.

    The answer lost my interest when I got to the line “provides conservation benefits.” Goodness knows what pish would come back if you were to try and ask if they thought it was sustainable?

    Its all very well that they claim they “take whatever steps necessary to defeat wildlife crime” (where’s the evidence?), but rewarding the offenders with public support is not really going to contribute to that effort?

  4. January 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve just had that same reply email.
    As expected it said the same old stuff that has been said time and time again.
    Governments are interested in economy, they are not interested in what goes on behind the scenes.
    Good luck in your quest to get under their skin because I’m giving up trying, it winds me up too much.

  5. 5 against feudalism
    January 26, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    ” as it makes a significant contribution to the rural economy of Scotland, and provides conservation benefits”

    Can they actually prove any of that ? Do they provide government tax income figures, or do they get their soundbite responses from the SGA and SLE ?

    What does the ‘Scottish country sports sector’ COST the country ? in terms of grants and subsidy, wildlife crime policing, loss of real rural jobs and housing, loss of Scottish reputation internationally, loss of wildlife tourism income and jobs, etc

    • 6 lizzybusy
      January 27, 2017 at 2:01 am

      Mark Avery has covered this issue in his excellent book on the grouse shooting industry – Inglorious. The answer is no.

      • 7 Murmur
        January 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm

        The reviews of Inglorious on Amazon are, errrr, interesting: all the 1* reviews have the look of a deliberate campaign to rubbish it, most being not “verified purchasers” and the review, often just “Rubbish!”, being their only review; then there are a couple of more detailed ones, but they are so clearly shooting industry apologists who cannot/will not present any evidence to support the usual assertions, before diving headlong into ad homs about anyone who disagrees with them. Bit like Botham there…I’m just surprised he hasn’t resorted to his old “How many test wickets do you have?” line to defend grouse shooting…

    • 8 Murmur
      January 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Every supposed study I have seen (I’ve had a few BTL arguments with shooting industry apologists at The Guardian) has been at best poor, generally vague, lumps together many things so it is hard to separate out jobs and spending directly linked to shooting from those which have more to do with general tourism and get all handy wavy.

      Honest answer is no-one really knows, mostly because they aren’t looking properly: the “studies” funded by the shooting industry clearly have their answer before they start, then torture the data until it confesses; anyone independent does not seem to get access to figures from estates…

  6. 9 Js
    January 26, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    At the risk of being derogatory to the SCSTG, how many aspiring shooters actually visit their website to find some shooting to buy.. surely this market is cornered by sporting agents and personal knowledge/contacts as to who to speak to. Graeme Christie is on there, and may… or may not have found piles of tenants from the website, no doubt a significant regret now. However, possibly it’s a good thing to put lots of shoot lets under one observable umbrella, it has certainly drawn attention to some Estates practices.

  7. 10 Doug Malpus
    January 26, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Yep I got the same wrong answer. Typical politics, never answer a question and spend plenty of words to tell nothing.



  8. 11 KDKS
    January 27, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Irrelevant with this post, but just saw a post about charity contributions from Famous Grouse in order to support endangered grouse species in UK?????

  9. 12 Ros Berrington
    January 29, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I have responded to Mr Walsh and pressed for a response personally from Ms Hyslop asking for a direct answer about the public funding.Will let you know if I get a reply.

  10. 13 Iain Gibson
    January 30, 2017 at 2:04 am

    For some reason I have stopped being notified of new comments and posts, despite re-registering and commenting recently, and I have just wasted an hour putting together a detailed response to this post, but it crashed when I clicked on “Post Comment”. I also noticed that my automatic signature was blank. Are these problems related, and if so, is there an explanation?

    [Ed: Hi Iain, it’s the first we’ve heard of it. Sometimes there can be technical glitches associated with WordPress that are beyond our control – e.g. we know that several readers have been unable to subscribe to the blog as WordPress just rejects their email addresses for no apparent reason. If it’s a common/widespread glitch, WordPress will advise bloggers that there is an issue & that the tech team is trying to fix it, but so far we’re unaware of anything going on. That doesn’t help you though, sorry!]

    • 14 Iain Gibson
      February 1, 2017 at 1:44 am

      Thanks RPUK. As you will notice, my second attempt to send the comment above was successful, otherwise you couldn’t have replied! I hope it didn’t sound like a complaint – I just didn’t like the idea of missing out on the latest news! Keep up the good work, which is greatly appreciated.

  11. 15 Harris Keillar
    January 30, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Have written to my MSP too

  12. 16 A Johnson
    February 8, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I received a reply from my MSP on 30 January informing me that he has written to Roseanna Cunningham, as yet he has not received a response. I have also written to her directly but have yet to hear anything.

    I have also written to the RT Hon Alistair Carmichael MP highlighting my concerns, he feels more can be done by the Scottish Government to promote best practice and increase efforts to stamp out illegal and bad practice. Sadly he is not persuaded that a ban is appropriate but he is prepared to listen. The sooner Police Scotland get increased funding the better.

    Adam Johnson

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