21
May
17

Alleged buzzard poisoning Edradynate Estate: Crown rejects police plea to prosecute

In recent weeks the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (the Scottish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service) has abandoned three prosecutions for alleged raptor persecution: the shooting of a hen harrier on the Cabrach Estate (here), the setting of a pole trap on the Brewlands Estate (here) and the vicarious liability of a landowner whose gamekeeper was convicted of killing a buzzard on Newlands Estate (here).

The abandonment of all three cases, without a full explanation from the Crown Office, has caused widespread frustration, anger and concern.

Well guess what? Now there’s a fourth case.

In an article in this morning’s Sunday Herald, journalist Rob Edwards reveals that the Crown Office has refused a plea from Police Scotland to bring proceedings against a gamekeeper on Edradynate Estate in Perthshire in relation to the alleged poisoning of three buzzards (photo RPUK).

The details of this case are sparse. We do know that two poisoned buzzards were discovered close to the estate in March 2015 and that both tested positive for poison, according to the Government’s pesticide testing unit, SASA (although the name of the poison has been withheld). We also know that the police later conducted a raid on the estate although we don’t know what evidence was uncovered. Perhaps this was when the third buzzard was found? Presumably though, if Police Scotland has since pleaded with the Crown Office to pursue a prosecution, we can assume that the police believed there to be sufficient evidence to charge somebody. Surprise, surprise, the Crown Office has not provided an explanation for its decision not to proceed.

UPDATE 22 May 2017: Further details about this case have emerged from an article Rob Edwards has published this morning on The Ferret website –

The Procurator Fiscal received a report concerning a 66-year-old man, in relation to alleged incidents between 18 March and 4 June 2015,” said a Crown Office spokesman.

Following full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the available admissible evidence, the Procurator Fiscal decided that there should be no proceedings taken at this time. The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available.”

Edradynate Estate has been at the centre of investigations for alleged wildlife crime for a very, very long time. In 2002, the estate’s Head gamekeeper and underkeeper were arrested and charged with nine offences relating to the use of poisoned baits and also bird cruelty, including the use of spring traps. However, on 22 July 2004, two years after the original arrests and 13 court hearings later, the Crown Office dropped the case (sound familiar?). A COPFS spokeswoman later admitted that the time taken to prepare the case had been a major factor in the decision to scrap it (see here).

In July 2010, a poisoned red kite was discovered. An un-named gamekeeper from the estate (who said he was a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association) claimed the bird had been ‘planted’. It also emerged that in addition to the poisoned red kite, over the previous 15 years, 9 buzzards, 2 sparrowhawks, 2 crows, 1 gull, 1 tawny owl, 1 pole cat, and 1 domestic cat, had all been found poisoned in the area. Twelve poisoned baits (Carbofuran, Mevinphos and Alphachloralose) had also been discovered (see here). Nobody was prosecuted for any of this.

In March 2011, two poisoned buzzards, two poisoned crows, and two Carbofuran-laced pheasant baits were discovered. A gamekeeper was taken for questioning but he was later released without charge (here).

In February 2012 an Edradynate Estate gamekeeper was charged with a number of alleged firearms and explosives offences (see here). However, in September 2012 the Crown deserted the case without providing an explanation (see here). Gosh, this is becoming quite a habit, isn’t it?

In March 2014, we revealed that Michael Campbell, the owner of Edradynate Estate, had made a generous donation to the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. We also published some astonishing commentary about the Estate written by the (now former) Tayside Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Alan Stewart (see here). This really is worth a read – it’s quite an eye-opener.

In April 2015, we revealed that Michael Campbell had made another hefty donation to the SGA (see here). Surely the SGA was aware of the long history of allegations made against this estate? Perhaps they didn’t care. As there hadn’t been a single conviction they could conveniently ignore the allegations and continue to accept the donations and continue to sit around the table at PAW meetings claiming to be doing all they could to eradicate raptor persecution.

And so now there’s yet another allegation to add to this catalogue of alleged criminality on Edradynate Estate. Ironically, the most recent alleged buzzard poisonings were discovered just a few weeks after the launch of the Scottish Government’s poison disposal scheme designed to rid Scotland of the poisons that had already been banned over ten years earlier. Yet another example of political pandering to criminal gamekeepers.

According to Rob Edwards’ article, the suspect in the most recent case has since left the estate. Interestingly, early last year we came across this advert for a new Head gamekeeper: Edradynate head keeper advert Check out the bit where it says “Nothing less than 40% returns will be expected”. Clearly there is pressure on the new keeper to deliver lots of game birds for shooting.

Edradynate Estate was recently featured in the Fieldsports magazine, with a detailed description of what happens on a shoot day. The author was there before the new head gamekeeper was employed. At the end of the article is a list of ‘guns’ (other people who were shooting that day). The name Robert Douglas-Miller jumped out at us. Surely not the same Robbie Douglas-Miller (owner of the Hopes Estate in the Lammermuirs) who runs the Wildlife Estates Scotland project for Scottish Land & Estates? What was he doing there given the long history of alleged raptor crimes uncovered on this estate? No, it must be a different Robert Douglas-Miller because a representative of Scottish Land & Estates, another PAW partner, wouldn’t be shooting on an estate that has repeatedly been described as being ‘among the worst in Scotland for wildlife crime‘, right?

So, let’s wrap this up. The Crown Office has previously dropped two prosecutions against gamekeepers on Edradynate Estate, and now has refused to begin a third prosecution for reasons that have not been made public.

This is the fourth prosecution for alleged raptor persecution that the Crown Office has dropped in the last month. We can’t seriously be expected to believe there’s nothing here to be concerned about?

Let’s see what response the Crown Office provides to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee, who today have written to the COPFS to find out what the hell is going on.

And let’s hope SNH is paying attention and will be considering this estate for a potential General Licence restriction order.

Photo of Edradynate Estate driveway by RPUK

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17 Responses to “Alleged buzzard poisoning Edradynate Estate: Crown rejects police plea to prosecute”


  1. 1 crypticmirror
    May 21, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    There is now [in my opinion] quite clearly and blatantly corruption somewhere in the COPFS. Someone there is obviously and deliberately making prosecutions “go away” for some reason. Clear agenda based behaviour.

  2. 2 Tony Dickinson
    May 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Another appalling example of the Crown,s
    failure to act for fear of upsetting the so called ruling classes. Shame on you Scotland.

  3. 3 Secret Squirrel
    May 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    my previous comments about someone new in the chain seems more likely with every nopro’d case.

  4. 4 Tony Warburton MBE
    May 21, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    My God, how much worse can it get?? The COPFS make Mugabe look like a Saint!

  5. 5 Nigel
    May 21, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Disgraceful

  6. 6 Jimmy
    May 21, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Politicians in Scotland need to get to the bottom of this rot in the justice system – the stench is now overwhelming!!

  7. 7 George M
    May 21, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    From the very bottom to the very top …. why am I not surprised?

  8. 8 Jo
    May 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you RPUK for following up yet another miscarriage of justice …… to say I am livid is an understatement …… whoever it is who’s refusing to carry these cases forward really needs to be rooted out …… I so hope Roseanna Cunningham’s enquiries bring some sense to the situation, but I won’t hold my breath ……

  9. 9 Graeme skinner
    May 21, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Time for direct action is approaching

    • May 22, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Absolutely. Anybody up for a demonstration at Cabrach on the 30th June to mark the injustice and scandal related to that poor, female hen harrier? She needs to be remembered.

    • May 22, 2017 at 9:32 am

      The time for direct action was a long time ago, however now more and more people are realising there is institutionalised corruption within the system then all the better. Targeted non-violent disruption of the worst offending estates would certainly gain more public awareness and hit the estate where it hurts – in the pocket.

  10. 12 chris lock
    May 22, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Many senior members of the judiciary are landowners / shooting men as well as their members of parliament. How you say ‘stitch up’?

  11. May 22, 2017 at 7:59 am

    It would be interesting to determine the shooting interests of the COPFS – and their land ownership…

  12. 14 Merlin
    May 22, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Another English landowner in Scotland whose employees are allegedly breaking the law on a regular basis. a.previous one mentioned on this blog recently had the estate registered in a tax haven, you don’t get any income from these people they are social parasites. SNP have continually backed down tackling these issues you would honestly think they would jump at the chance to take on the English establishment,

  13. May 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    what can be done about this obvious corruption? nearby big pheasant shoot place where people come from overseas to shoot- entrance covered with huge VOTE FOR NEIL CARMICHAEL AND SLOGAN IS -A BETTER MORE SECURE FUTURE….4 huge poster nailed around the entrance to this place. one is about 3’X2′. the people putting flyers through the doors have uniforms. black jackets with blue piping. so much money being spent. reality: a less secure future for the many.


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