30
Aug
19

No vicarious liability prosecution for Longformacus Estate

Ten days ago Scottish gamekeeper Alan Wilson was sentenced for a catalogue of wildlife crime offences, including possession of the banned poison Carbofuran and the shooting of protected raptors, badgers and an otter on the Longformacus Estate in the Scottish Borders (see here).

[Criminal gamekeeper Alan Wilson, photo by Daily Record]

Very early on in this case we were aware that two individuals had been charged in relation to the crimes uncovered at Longformacus Estate (see here) and it was rumoured that the second man was facing a charge of alleged vicarious liability for Wilson’s crimes, although we were unable to verify this.

As a quick re-cap, vicarious liability was a measure introduced by the Scottish Government on 1 January 2012 as a direct and specific response to ongoing illegal raptor persecution, whereby somebody (e.g. a landowner or a sporting agent) may be held responsible for the criminal actions of an employee – see here for a more detailed explanation.

Following Wilson’s conviction and then subsequent sentencing earlier this month, we were keen to find out whether the Crown Office was now pursuing a charge of alleged vicarious liability against any individual associated with the management of Longformacus Estate. Last week we wrote to the Crown Office for clarification and this is the response received yesterday:

So, here we are yet again.

No prosecution for anyone associated with the management of Longformacus Estate where gamekeeper Alan Wilson was able to commit crime after crime after crime after crime, apparently without his boss(es) noticing.

For a defence of a charge of alleged vicarious liability, the gamekeeper’s boss(es) would need to show that (a) s/he/they did not know the offence was being committed; AND (b) that s/he/they took all reasonable steps AND exercised all due diligence to prevent the offence(s) being committed. Without knowing the full facts and circumstances of this case it is impossible for us to judge whether the Crown Office’s decision not to pursue a charge was sensible, but it has to be said that given the extent and duration of Wilson’s criminal activities, it would have been very interesting indeed to have heard his bosses’ interpretation and explanation of ‘all due diligence’.

We’ll probably never know why the Crown Office chose not to proceed – it is under no obligation to offer any explanation to the public. However, this latest decision really shouldn’t come as any surprise to anybody – remember, this is the same Crown Office that dropped five prosecutions for alleged raptor persecution in quick succession in 2017 (see here), even including several cases where RSPB video footage had captured the crimes on camera! Those decisions not to proceed with prosecutions hailed the start of what has now become complete exasperation at the authorities’ failure to take on many cases linked to wildlife crime on game-shooting estates.

The Crown’s decision not to pursue criminal proceedings in relation to the crimes committed at Longformacus Estate also further entrenches the view that vicarious liability as a measure for tackling ongoing raptor persecution is a resounding failure. Introduced seven and a half years ago on 1 Jan 2012, only two successful prosecutions have been secured: one in Dec 2014 (here) and one in Dec 2015 (here). A third case in Oct 2015 was dropped because the authorities couldn’t identify the estate’s management structure (here) and a fourth case was abandoned in April 2017 because the Crown said ‘it wasn’t in the public interest to continue’ (here).

Who thinks that two successful cases in 7.5 years is a measure of success? Perhaps if raptor persecution crimes weren’t still being committed then vicarious liability might have been viewed as a success in terms of its deterrent value but it’s quite clear, given the ongoing reports of persecution, that landowners and sporting agents are probably increasingly confident of evading prosecution and the Crown’s decision on the Longformacus Estate will only strengthen that view.

The question now is, for how many more years do we have to sit and watch the pathetic failure of vicarious liability as a measure to combat raptor persecution? The Scottish Government can no longer rely on this as an indication of its commitment to tackling these crimes. Sure, when introduced in 2012 it was done in good faith and with the best of intentions but it is quite clear for all to see that, for whatever reason, it isn’t working, and the Scottish Government needs to acknowledge this failure and find out why it’s failing and get it fixed.

It’s not just convicted gamekeeper Alan Wilson sticking up two fingers to our law-abiding society.

The topic of vicarious liability was raised at the recent SNP Conference Fringe meeting on grouse moor reform (here) as well as the Revive Coalition’s conference in Perth (here) and caused quite a stir amongst delegates and panellists at both events. It’s an issue we’re likely to follow up with several interested MSPs.

Meanwhile, Chris Packham’s petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting is doing exceptionally well, just two weeks after launching. It has now attracted over 81,000 signatures but is likely to fall if it doesn’t reach 100,000 signatures by Sept 9th, thanks to the current shenanigans at Westminster (if Parliament is suspended all unfinished business, including live petitions, will fall). If you haven’t yet signed, please do so HERE. Thank you.

 

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56 Responses to “No vicarious liability prosecution for Longformacus Estate”


  1. 1 Janet Hoptroff
    August 30, 2019 at 1:39 am

    This makes appalling reading,, the Scottish Government clearly needs to “find out why and fix it”… They don’t appear to have the will to do much with regard to Wildlife unless they are made to.

    The important thing now is to get Chris’s Petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting to 100,000 asap. Yes, everyone who hasn’t signed, please sign. BUT everyone who HAS signed, please get a few more friends, family work-mates to sign!!! I’ve found that once I’ve told people about what’s happening, they are horrified and very keen to add their names. It would be so awful if Parliament is suspended and the Petition hasn’t quite reached it’s target 100,000!

    • 2 Alec Swan
      August 30, 2019 at 8:13 am

      There has to be something deeply unhealthy about a system where a criminal’s employer is held responsible for the actions of employed staff. Short of employing a second team to follow and investigate the actions of an employee, during his daily and night time working hours, employers are limited to having staff members advised, both in written form and filmed form, clearly laying out to the staff member(s) that should they be found to have broken the Laws – and specifically in the illegal persecution of wildlife, then the result will be that they will receive a notice of Instant Dismissal and that their employer will volunteer any evidence available to them, and to the authorities.
      There was a case here in Norfolk, just 3 or 4 years ago where an employed ‘Keeper was found with dead and protected birds of prey in his possession and also and like the man in question here, quantities of poisons. It was quite shameful that his penalty was 10 hours of Community Service. Equally wrong was that his employers, who I know and who are a well established and highly respected farming family had their Single Farm Payment reduced by some £200,000. No business can stand such a loss without it having the knock-on effect upon the reduction of benefits and to the rest of their farming staff.
      I was previously employed as a Gamekeeper and NEVER in my time did I ever kill birds of prey. I find myself in total opposition to those who would harm a valuable rural asset and a part of our heritage – BUT – to hold employers responsible for the actions of employed staff over whom they have no physical control, is unjust and so, wrong.

      • August 30, 2019 at 8:33 am

        Thanks for your comment, Alec.

        I have to disagree with your notion that vicarious liability for raptor persecution is ‘unjust’ and ‘wrong’, mainly because it isn’t a strict liability offence, i.e. the boss does have a defence if s/he can show that they didn’t know the offence was being committed AND they took all reasonable steps AND exercised all due diligence to prevent the offences being committed.

        That doesn’t mean that the boss has to follow the gamekeeper around 24/7, but it does mean that regular training, auditing and spot checks should be carried out as a minimum. It’s not known whether this took place at Longformacus Estate because those details are not available in the public domain but it’d be difficult to argue that even if those measures were undertaken, they can’t have been done with ALL due diligence given the atrocities in full view in Henlaw Wood.

        In the context of why vicarious liability was introduced back in 2012, it was a specific response from Scot Gov after years of warning the game-shooting industry to clean up its act. The industry failed so Scot Gov acted, as it said it would. The industry can hardly cry foul after so many repeated warnings.

        The case you mention in Norfolk sounds like the Stody Estate case, where the gamekeeper was convicted for the mass poisoning of buzzards. Yes, the estate did lose a substantial amount of its subsidies as a result but then it appealed that decision and was eventually exonerated by the courts: https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/stody-estate-exonerated-after-gamekeepers-conviction-for-mass-raptor-poisoning/

      • 4 Stephen Lewis
        August 30, 2019 at 8:42 am

        Alec, was the £200k removed after a legal case or just a breach of cross compliance rules? Given your former profession I’m sure you will be aware that many keepers willingly do their master’s bidding and if they don’t they’ll get lent on or fired? It may be a low number but the two successful prosecutions of vicarious liability in Scotland show that keepers do indeed do as they are told. If a worker at a chemical plant opened a valve and polluted a river do you think that SEPA would prosecute the worker or the chemical company? In other words, employers are often, rightly, held to account for their employees actions. Having said all that, VL has proved to be a dismal failure as pointed out by RPUK. Therefore, the only answer is to ban DGS. Perhaps you will join me in that call?

        • 5 Alec Swan
          August 30, 2019 at 9:14 am

          Stephen – If I knew what DGS referred to, then I may well join you!
          Subsequent to my work in service, I farmed and ran two fencing contracting gangs. One night, a recently employed staff member returned to a work site and stole a trailer which was the property of my client. Thankfully, my client – and one of many years standing, was understanding – but should I also have been prosecuted along with the man who I employed?
          My point is that the employer cannot be held responsible for the criminal activity of any member of staff whilst they are not under their direct control. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs in cases of sheep worrying, but then dog owners are deemed as being in a position of ownership and despite what others may think, in our now brave new world, feudalism is history.
          When I worked as a ‘keeper, just about all employers were oblivious to what they probably saw as the ‘mysteries’ of my trade, that I accept but to suggest that employers – with the exception of the odd congenital idiot, are going to run such a risk as to encourage their staff to break the Law – and without going over old ground, it would only be a fool who failed to protect themselves and their assets.

          • August 30, 2019 at 10:16 am

            Alex.
            Since you are appearing so rational and unbiased please provide the proof which you say you have of your claim that the Golden Eagle photo with a trap around its leg is a ‘fake’.
            https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/young-golden-eagle-flying-around-cairngorms-national-park-with-an-illegal-trap-clamped-to-its-leg/#comment-265317

            • 7 Alec Swan.
              August 30, 2019 at 11:11 am

              anandprasad – proof is not available, not from the accuser or the person raising doubts as to the validity of the photograph – and that’s me!
              I spoke with a Lady from the Police base which were concerned with this case and she was familiar with the claims. I assured the lady that if she would confide in me, then I would not repeat her words, and so sadly, I can’t. The case that I put to her was that I was all but certain that the picture concerned had been adulterated. The trap which was supposedly attached to the foot of the bird, was a Fenn Trap and most probably a Mk. IV. I have used a great many of these traps and over a great many years.
              My doubts (ok, near certainty!) centres around the simple fact that Fenn Traps have jaws of an approximate width of 4″. The eagle was a young bird and before their first moult – ALL birds of prey have longer flight and tail feathers than they do as adults – that’s a simple fact.
              There is no proof available, either way, but the simple act of viewing the photograph has the trap wildly out of perspective with the size of the bird, and were it genuine, so the jaws of the trap would have been at least 10″ wide.
              I will continue reinforce my defence of all Birds of Prey, but when supposed evidence is provided which is at best, questionable, then that in itself throws further evidence, in to doubt.

          • 8 Alec Swan
            August 30, 2019 at 10:30 am

            Stephen – I omitted to answer your question, my apologies – it’s my understanding that the penalty was levied by means of non-compliance of the cross-compliance rules, the SFP was withheld – and this leads us to a further anomaly and a clear case I believe, of injustice;
            Appealing the justice of such decisions could and most probably would, bankrupt the appellant and the risk is too great. Neither DEFRA nor the rspca are accountable – with the responsibility within the supposed regulating bodies and for what is clearly injustice landing upon an umbrella and with those beneath being free of any apparent responsibility.
            Clearly, those with the potential to lose the most, are those who are most often forced in to accepting injustice. Were a custodial sentence the result of successful prosecution and of the criminal, then such events would be rarer, much rarer, than they are now.

          • 9 Paul V Irving
            August 30, 2019 at 10:54 am

            Sorry Alec but you are simply wrong, in almost all industries under Offices, Shops and Factories Act, an employer is responsible for any crime committed by an employee in what might be deemed the normal working schedule, it always struck me as odd that this amongst other things did not apply to gamekeepers. If in my working life I had committed an offence it is perfectly reasonable for the authorities to check whether I did it under instruction or it happened because of poor instruction or dereliction of duty by my employer and my employer be held responsible if at fault. This should apply under VL to all keepering staff too.
            DGS is Driven Grouse shooting.!

            • 10 Alec Swan
              August 30, 2019 at 12:10 pm

              Paul Irving – to carry your argument to it’s logical conclusion, the employer of a lorry driver who is caught speeding, or drink driving, or for causing death by dangerous driving, is equally culpable and for his employees actions? – – are you sure of your argument?
              DGS – and thanks for the advice. It seems that all those who want to alter the relevant environment which has developed and progressed over the las 200 years, are hardly likely to listen to me and my counselling for reason and logic.

              • 11 Mike Haden
                August 30, 2019 at 1:30 pm

                In the case of speeding then if the employee could prove that the schedule he was given could not be achieved without speeding then yes the company would also be liable. As I have alluded to in another comment, companies now have mandatory training to ensure that their employees are aware of the consequences.

                It is the norm now for working drivers to undergo assessments etc and most company vehicles are GPS tracked, and anyone speeding is disciplined. This isn’t just to make our roads safer it is to ensure that if a serious accident happens, the company can prove they have done everything possible to prove that the driver was acting outside of their guidelines.

              • August 30, 2019 at 4:32 pm

                Alec (sorry for Alex last time), you should take up this argument up with Andrew Gilruth, the game shooter spin doctor. He claim Vicarious Liability isn’t necessary on driven grouse moors because it already exists and i do mean in the UK. Obvioisly that is bollocks as regard DGMs but it does exist in many other areas. Look it up/

          • 13 workshy333
            August 30, 2019 at 11:40 am

            Driven Grouse Shoots

      • 14 LOGAN Steele
        August 30, 2019 at 9:58 am

        If employers are happy to enjoy the benefit that employing staff brings therefore they must be willing to deal with the consequences when those same employees break the law.

      • 15 Secret Squirrel
        August 30, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Hi Alec, Vicarious liability is a long established and proven legal principle, across a range of different legislation (Consumer law, health and safety etc). In most cases there is a defence of being able to show that the employer took all steps to avoid the offence occurring (Usually exists for the main offender too.) Case law in Due dilligenece and reasonable precuations is quite extensive (See for example Tesco v Natrass which held that a manager is not the same as the corporate mind) and is probably one reason why we don’t see so many prosecutions.

        All reasonable precautions means putting in place the systems to stop the offence taking place. All due diligence is operating those systems correctly. So an honest employer has plenty of safeguards to prevent being held responsible for the actions of their agents.

        Although the onus is on the accused to show they meet the defence, a good investigator/prosecutor will examine the systems and defences provided to see if they think they meet the due dilliengce test. If they do, there is no point in continuing with a prosecution.

        There sometimes is a presumption that an original conviction needs to exist for a vicarious liability prosecution, but that’s not the case, in most instances you can report both parties at the same time. Equally it is possible just to report the vicariously liable party and not the primary offender – the prosecution has to show the offence took place and was committed by an agent of the third party.

    • 16 Paul Fisher
      August 30, 2019 at 8:27 am

      It’s also worth reminding people that, unlike any other petition site, you do need to watch for an email to confirm your signature and click on the link. Some of these can end up in junk files. If you are encouraging people to sign who have never signed a government petition before, it’s definitely worth mentioning.

  2. 17 Roger Little
    August 30, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Only through relentless predator persecution do grouse densities reach levels that make driven shoots commercially viable. Any grouse moor manager/ owner [Ed: should] know what was happening on his grouse moor by implication.

    [Ed: Thanks, Roger. One word edited, to avoid you libelling anyone]

    • 18 Alec Swan
      August 30, 2019 at 10:54 am

      Roger Little, it also has to be accepted that without fostered game, there wouldn’t be the raptors in the numbers that there are. Without Grouse in large numbers, the Harriers and the other BoP simply wouldn’t have the available food supply to enable them to rear their own young, and in the numbers that they clearly do. Perhaps not symbiosis in an acceptable form, I accept, but surely a case of QED!
      This is rather wandering away from the question of suitable penalties for miscreants, but probably difficult to separate the various issues.

      • 19 Paul V Irving
        August 30, 2019 at 11:19 am

        Alec you are making the huge and quite wrong assumption that raptors ( which are in real terms absent or at much lower than natural density on grouse moors) largely eat grouse. This is quite wrong there are no raptors for which grouse form all or the majority of their diet breeding in the UK.

      • 20 Guest
        August 30, 2019 at 11:53 am

        “Without Grouse in large numbers, the Harriers and the other BoP simply wouldn’t have the available food supply to enable them to rear their own young”

        This is complete and utter nonsense. You should be embarrassed utter such blatant lies. Driven grouse shooting is around 150 years old; how do you think birds of prey, and grouse for that matter, coped before the advent of this destructive practice? The research on Hen harriers’ diets shows that grouse form only a relatively small portion of it, as well. Where are you getting this information from?

      • 21 Les Wallace
        August 30, 2019 at 12:08 pm

        ‘it also has to be accepted that without fostered game, there wouldn’t be the raptors in the numbers that there are’ spot on Alec without the ludicrous appetite for big bags of grouse, pheasant and partridge we would have considerably higher numbers of hen harrier, golden eagle, goshawk, red kite and peregrine wouldn’t we? Masses of corvids, wood pigeon and grey squirrels out there for goshawk to chomp on, so why do we have approximately 500 pairs when we should have about 10,000? The hen harrier a bird which disperses widely from its natal site in national decline, two thirds of potential golden eagle territories on eastern grouse moors empty and last I heard more peregrines breeding in London than on northern England’s grouse moors.

      • 22 Roger Little
        August 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm

        Perhaps we should just let nature sort out the balance of different species rather than man usually exerting influence to his own ends. However it is still clear that an employer has a duty of responsibility to ensure his employees as part their own responsibilities are not breaking the law. Vicarious liability should be clearly be used in this case to prosecute.

      • 23 Mike Haden
        August 30, 2019 at 12:31 pm

        How did Hen Harrier get there before the latter part of the 19th century, you know before this tradition of Driven Grouse Shooting became the norm?

        We regards to liability, well if two salesmen conspire to fix prices and rig a market, not only will the salesmen face criminal charges their companies will be hit with large fines.

        To take your case of one of your employees, in that case you are not responsible he returned after work, in his own time, to steal the trailer. The trailer was not used by your business and your business did not gain any advantage.

        The same cannot be said for gamekeepers illegally killing predators, it is akin to price fixing, in that they break the law to give the company they work for a competitive advantage.

        Almost every company now has mandatory ethics and compliance training to demonstrate that every employee understands the laws that apply to carrying out their job. Even then if they break the law and the company benefits the company gets fined.

      • 24 Coop
        August 30, 2019 at 2:27 pm

        Absolutely folks. Mr Swan exhibits the delusional/dishonest character of so many involved with game shooting. Never a shred of evidence, just fabrications to suit their non-arguments.

        • 25 Alec Swan.
          August 30, 2019 at 2:42 pm

          As is usually the case, when well intentioned and courteous – and hopefully helpful observations are offered – some will be met and responded to in a like manner, whilst others, generally those with little in the way of meaningful input bar offering insults attempt to widen and separate any resolve.
          For those of you who are given to reasonable debate, and who are involved with those who aren’t, then the generally rather disinterested general public, will seek out the poorest offerings and judge them, for what they are, the meanderings of those who all so often, and in reality, do more harm to the wildlife which they would purport to support than those who they oppose.

          In Hunting parlance “Good Night”.

          • 26 Coop
            August 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm

            Your smarmy reply doesn’t alter the fact that your claims are twaddle one iota. You see, many here find it highly offensive that you insult their intelligence with your ridiculous falsehoods.

          • 27 Stephen Lewis
            August 30, 2019 at 5:34 pm

            Alec, I strongly disagree with you on your stance regarding VL and your highly inaccurate claim that DGS means ‘more raptors’, but I sympathise with your comment above in that your detractors should play the ball and not the man. Incidentally, that principle is, perhaps, something that you may wish to convey to your contacts in the fun killing industry…

            • 28 Alec Swan
              August 30, 2019 at 7:43 pm

              VL is indeed an interesting topic and not one that I would use, to advance an argument – – however;
              If we consider that VL applies in the case of an employer who through the freedom that most ‘keepers, by the nature of their work, seem to enjoy and the responsibilities which the employer must shoulder- –
              The comparison which I offered earlier of an employer who employs a lorry driver who, part way through a journey and whilst on his rest period, decides, unobserved to consume a half bottle of spirits – he drives off and kills someone – – is his employer as, or any more liable, then the employer of the moorland ‘keeper who also takes the Law in to his own hands?
              Having worked as a ‘keeper, I have ever known any employer who would encourage, or even countenance breaking the Law. It may be that there are those on here who have sufficient knowledge and evidence to support the prosecution of employers, they will clearly have a greater understanding of the Landowner-Employer’s rational than I have.

              • 29 Simon Tucker
                August 30, 2019 at 8:37 pm

                Alec, be honest: you have come on here with the deliberate intention, by appearing to be reasonable, whilst being deliberately obtuse and factually incorrect, of winding people up so you can pontificate with your supercilious reaction.

                DGS (driven grouse shooting) is a recent phenomenon. Peat moors and heather, Hen Harriers, Peregrines, Goshawks, Owls, Weasels, Stoats, Foxes, Badgers, Mountain and Brown Hares, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, and countless other species have co-existed without the help of gamekeepers for millennia. It is only since the greed and intolerance engendered by DGS that this natural balance has become so terribly skewed. Be even more honest: how often do you go shooting?

                • 30 Alec Swan
                  August 30, 2019 at 9:22 pm

                  Simon Tucker, you’ve reduced your argument to insults – I have no pre-decided intention of winding you- or others -up, I’m doing no more than giving you what I believe to be a balanced argument.
                  How often do I shoot? A good question! In part it involves finances, it’s costly, but more than that, I find the large scale shoots, and not just because of the costs but some of those in who’s company I will shoot, to be abhorrent.
                  I don’t shoot Driven Grouse – I can’t afford it. I do though consider that because they are wild, as opposed to reared, birds, so they represent the best of sport. The entire and created ecology of a Grouse Moor, is one which I find both enduring and endearing – – – – and you don’t see the world as I do, I can tell!

                  • 31 Goshawk
                    August 31, 2019 at 2:55 am

                    Simon is the right, though, your act is extremely obvious and based completely on bad faith arguments. Whether it’s claiming that the eagle caught in a fenn trap was ‘fake’, or showing your complete ignorance of ecology by claiming that raptors require massive densities of game birds to survive, it’s clear that you are completely out of your depth when it comes to anything approaching serious discussion.

              • August 31, 2019 at 9:40 am

                Having worked as a ‘keeper, I have ever(sic) known any employer who would encourage, or even countenance breaking the Law

                Alec, presuming that you meant ‘never’, it is obvious that you weren’t keepering on a grouse moor. That is correct isn’t it? I have no doubt that that is the case for the majority of estates in the lowlands. I may be wrong but that is how i see it and i think that is why we are trying to ban DGS but having said that, failing a ban, i still think the RSPB should be aiming to licence the whole shooting hobby because it isn’t solely an upland problem, just much less so.

              • 33 Mike Haden
                August 31, 2019 at 3:56 pm

                Oh course if a driver choose to drive drunk then his employer would not be liable. However if he forged his tach to put more hours in and the company benefited from this increased productivity, then yes the company would get fined.

                If a keeper illegally kills predators and as a consequence the grouse bag is increased, increasing the profitability of the shoot then if the law that applies to almost every other business was applicable then the company would also get fined.

                Which shoot would you be more likely to go on the one where hundreds of targets are available or one with a few dozen.

                It’s about time the countryside started to enter the 21st century and abide by the same laws as the rest of us.

                • 34 Coop
                  August 31, 2019 at 8:44 pm

                  Here’s the thing, Mike: It really isn’t about “the countryside”. It’s about a bunch of lying bastards who hide behind this whole charade of representing rural residents. In my opinion, every penny made by the DGS shower is proceeds of crime, and should be included in that legislation.

      • August 30, 2019 at 4:55 pm

        ‘without fostered game, there wouldn’t be the raptors in the numbers that there are. Without Grouse in large numbers, the Harriers and the other BoP simply wouldn’t have the available food supply to enable them to rear their own young, and in the numbers that they clearly do.’

        Never heard of a place called Mull then? How about Orkney, Shetland, Skye. Ring any bells?
        How are we supposed to take you seriously?

      • 36 sog
        August 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm

        Alec, you’ve forgotten mountain hares as food for raptors.

  3. 37 Andy Mitchell
    August 30, 2019 at 8:52 am

    I can’t even feign surprise. Perhaps RPUK’s next campaign should be to prosecute the Crown Office for a monumental lack of due diligence over so many years.

  4. August 30, 2019 at 8:54 am

    This cannot continue. As stated here the Scottish government need to step in. My heart breaks at this news!

  5. 39 Secret Squirrel
    August 30, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    As an aside, I hadn’t followed the detail sof the original case, but I presume that ‘list’ is his ‘kill list’ for a period? It does raise some questions (besides a prediliction for killing hedgehogs!)

    Stone Martin(sp?) – not aware of any of these in the UK, so presumably Pine Marten or Ferret/Polecat but enough for him to have killed 8 of them

    Musk rat – afaik, these have been eliminated in the Uk by the 1930s so what did he kill? Water Vole?

    Ragona – no idea what this is

    VA – nor this

    • 40 Alec Swan
      August 30, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Agreed – a man of limited intelligence. The problem is though that just as on here and in other groups, the lowest common denominator is how the entire question, is judged.
      The only Pine Martens that I know of, are in the Highlands – are they also on the Scottish Borders? I suspect that you’re right, escaped polecat-ferrets survive and breed easily in the wild and they are a menace, in numbers.
      Musk Rat? We shouldn’t laugh, despite the temptation!
      Thankfully, today we have Agricultural Colleges with specifically focussed courses and for ‘keepers, where the rule of thumb and of 30-40 years are now seen, for what they are.

      • 41 Paul V Irving
        August 30, 2019 at 4:27 pm

        There are Pine Martens very thinly spread in the Borders, Northern England and the tiny populations here in Wales have been recently reinforced by reintroductions which have apparently been successful, pleasingly. Perhaps I have a chance of seeing one but judging from the raptors here that mysteriously disappear or fail to breed consistently on local pheasant shoots perhaps not. As to polecat -ferrets they are by outbreeding now largely indistinguishable from Polecats and no more of a risk in a balanced ecological system than the polecat. I’d certainly rather have them than the alien American mink or the bloody pampered pheasant.
        Not sure about keepering courses Alec as my experience tells me that many young keepers have all the illegal persecuting habits of their older companions and they are fitter!. We’ll just have to disagree on DGS I want to see it gone yesterday! and I birdwatched and regularly spent much time on such moors for over fifty years. I would much rather have a proper more biodiverse ecology there much as the more open ground of Norway, Sweden and the Baltic States.

        • 42 Alec Swan
          August 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm

          Paul V Irving – whilst you may find this difficult to accept, I suspect that face to face, you and I would find some common ground!
          The true and wild Welsh Borders Polecat is almost certainly extinct – replaced with ferret/hybrids, which is a great shame.The same can be said for the Scottish Wildcat – just about. I believe it to be a tragedy but the situation is probably irreversible. I could weep for the damage done.
          I’d point out a cruel truth to you – it was the activists which released farmed mink in to the wild which presented us with the problem. The same can be said for Coypu – the erosion and damage done to our waterway banks was unsustainable and the subsequent knock-on effect upon other and indigenous wildlife, was equally worrying. Coypu have now, and thankfully, been exterminated.
          The major problem with our environment in the UK – or the part that currently interests you and I is that it just isn’t realistic to compare it with Sweden or any of the Baltics – and just as our micro-forestry operations, though man made, they are minuscule, when we compare them to the natural re-afforestation of Norway and Sweden.
          So what do we do? We see what we have and we do our best to encourage sustainable growth and a future for yours AND my, grandchildren.
          Now here we may not agree – but all those who care about our environment, need to LISTEN to each other.

          • 43 Coop
            August 30, 2019 at 8:52 pm

            More hearsay from Mr Swan.

            Mink were regularly escaping from fur farms as early as the 1930s; well before “activists” began misguidedly releasing them. It was another 30 years before wild breeding was confirmed, and the population was only able to expand due to the widespread declines of Otters; which, as we all know, were still being hunted by thugs with packs of dogs. Q.E.D. indeed.

          • 44 sog
            August 30, 2019 at 9:32 pm

            Who released the wild boar?

      • 45 dave angel
        August 30, 2019 at 5:38 pm

        There are pine marten in the Borders.

        There are muskrat in France, where Wilson formerly worked as a gamekeeper.

        No offence, but you appear to be absolutely clueless.

  6. 46 crypticmirror
    August 30, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    “We’ll probably never know why the Crown Office chose not to proceed”

    But we do know why, that is the most frustrating part, you just do not want to admit it. The system itself protects the rich, one hand washes the other. I do not know, I really do not (or maybe I do not want to admit it) know why you are so set against admitting that the system itself is corrupt. I know you say you’ve met individuals who claim to be doing good work, but they still work within a corrupt system designed to protect lawbreakers from the wealthy classes. So, legit question, what will it take for you to come out and say that the whole stinking edifice has to go? That there can be no progress under the current legal, investigatory, and prosecutorial system?

    • 47 Alec Swan
      August 30, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      I’m always a little suspicious of those who hide behind assumed IDs and as I believe this to be a serious matter, our environment and its protection – indeed its furtherance and future, so I won’t engage in conversation with those who for what ever reasons, decide to hide their identity.
      I have an e/mail address alecswan1@gmail.com should you wish to discuss wildlife, and our influence upon its management, further, then get in touch – – if not, then our conversation is over.

  7. 49 Barney
    August 30, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    And this just proves when all is said and done the activity needs banning because the powers that be either can’t or won’t use the laws we already have in place, licensing will solve nothing so ban it and let’s all move on because I’m sick of going around in circles listening to the same old argument year after year

  8. August 30, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Alec that quote was from RPUK and presumably the comment was addressed to them not you.
    But it is an interesting point. What would it take for you to sign a petition to ban driven grouse shooting. I am not being sarcastic. You believe that photo of a GE with a trap around its leg to be a fake. Do you deny all the other eagles and Hen Harriers killed by traps. Where is your line?

    • 51 Alec Swan
      August 30, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      I would never sign up to the banning of Driven Grouse Shooting – and there is nothing imaginable which would persuade me to do so – – – – ok so perhaps I would; if it would guarantee that we leave the EU and if Trump suddenly drops dead and if we live in a perfect world – – yep, I’ll support it!
      Over the last two centuries our moors have evolved – they’ve become what they are, NOT perfect, but then Trump won’t bloody well die, so it won’t be, but they are a microcosm of our idol world.
      Bereft of grouse and the management system which gives us our moors, the resultant landscape would be sterile and pointless – – and no, I accept that you don’t, can’t and won’t, see the world as I do.

      • August 31, 2019 at 9:43 am

        Thanks for being honest but can you not see how that makes you look.
        Even if all the White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, Peregrines , Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls were exterminated from the highlands and the moorlands of England you would still not ban DGS.
        I rest my case.

      • 53 Mike Haden
        September 3, 2019 at 8:44 am

        Alec, as you claim I think there is common ground to be found between us. For my part it’s the driven aspect of this sport. I have nothing against fishing , hunting per se where the human is a predator and has to compete with other predators. Where taking one or two fish/grouse for your own consumption is the norm, and a blank day isn’t a disaster.

        I’ve said this before it should be the quality of the hunt not the quantity of the bag. Unfortunately everything appears to gravitate to DGS and all the ills that are associated with that. The wilful blindness, by many associated with it, that some level of criminality must underpin it for the high bag counts that are reported.

  9. 54 Jimmy
    August 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    As long as the legal profession across the UK continues to indulge wildlife criminals nothing will change

  10. 55 Marta Falco
    September 1, 2019 at 7:44 am

    If employers do not now realise that they are responsible for how and what they describe the work they are hiring a game keeper to do, then that seems odd to me. Would you pay someone to work for you and not have a written agreement as to the exact work you are hiring them to do?


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