18
Jul
21

Organised crime, harassment & intimidation – another day on the grouse moors (guest blog)

Earlier this year I wrote two blogs as part of a series on the harassment and abuse hurled by gamekeepers at those of us who dare challenge and question the wildlife crime and environmental damage associated with grouse moor management (see here and here but be warned, it’s very nasty, offensive and unpleasant).

What follows is the third instalment in the series, this time written as a guest blog by Bob Berzins (@BerzinsBob) who lives in Sheffield and through fell running has come to know the nearby Peak District grouse moors only too well.

[Bob being interviewed by Chris Packham. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Organised crime, harassment and intimidation – another day on the grouse moors

Guest blog by Bob Berzins

In December 2020, along with around 20 other people I featured in what can only be described as an online ‘Advent Calendar of Hate’ which was published by a group purporting to be a ‘grassroots moorland community’ in the north of England but who had been exposed as an astroturfing group set up by the grouse shooting industry, paying a London media agency to promote vicious, personal online attacks about anyone who had dared speak out against grouse shooting (e.g. see here).

My own profile is mainly around the Peak District-based Moorland Monitors which is an actual community, grassroots group that lawfully monitors and records what’s happening in the Pennine uplands.

In my case the abuse has continued since December 2020 in various forms, for several months.

Why the interest in me?

A consistent message from countryside interests is that local communities are 100% behind shooting. But that’s not the case at all and Moorland Monitors gives a voice to local people who are otherwise afraid to speak out on their own. There’s increasing interest from the media, local or national, to publish stories about the traps that are used, the wildlife that’s killed and also to touch on animal welfare issues. The audience here doesn’t know or care about “vermin” and they are horrified to see wildlife killed in this way. As this compassionate outlook gains traction, it exposes the lies that underpin the shooting industry.

Tapping out a message on social media isn’t really a crime is it?

Well, yes it can be. Following the Euros final, the hate spewn out on social media has been appalling. Facebook’s definition of hate speech is broad and covers “violent or dehumanising speech, harmful stereotypes, statements of inferiority, expressions of contempt, disgust or dismissal, cursing and calls for exclusion or segregation.”    

Bob the nob”, “Please can you tell us where Bob lives”, “Looks as moronic as a few others I could mention” are just a few of the comments written about me on Facebook but the social media platform failed to delete anything after I complained.

We also have to look at the online articles which drove these comments (written by the same anonymous grouse shooting reps as the advent calendar of hate) and to consider if these constitute ‘incitement’ (to harass). Certainly the abuse started after the publication of their offensive commentaries. I’ve reported everything to the Police but they concluded that the abusive publications were within ‘Human Rights’.

Free speech is a cornerstone of our society but not if it incites hatred and violence.

Harassment escalates

The online abuse, with very obvious photos of me, soon led to the identification of my vehicle.

During lockdown earlier this year we were allowed to exercise locally with one other person. I arranged with 3 friends that we would arrive at different times on a local grouse moor, set off separately and do a timed run. This was as near as we could get to doing a race.

At the end of my run I saw 3 gamekeepers near my vehicle. I didn’t think anything of it.

However, the next day I was at home painting our kitchen and my wife answered the door to a police officer who was making allegations of damage to traps. I was called over and the first thing the officer said to me was that the farmer whose traps had been damaged wouldn’t pursue the case if I paid compensation.

My mind was racing and I could only imagine this was something to do with my run the day before, when I hadn’t seen any traps at all. I did manage to ask what evidence there was and the reply was there was no evidence apart from my car being spotted!

So I was being asked to pay compensation when there was no evidence that any traps had been damaged at all and no evidence that I’d been involved in any criminal damage. None of my friends, who had parked at the same place and who had run over the same area were contacted so it’s clear I was being targeted.

Police Professional Standards Part 1

I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong and it was obvious to me the allegation was a complete fabrication. So I complained to South Yorkshire Police Professional Standards, asking if officers had attended the scene of the alleged damage to gather evidence and requesting that the person who made the allegation be investigated for making a false report, which is the criminal offence of ‘wasting police time’ (knowingly making false reports to the police).

South Yorkshire Police have previously been involved in a similar incident of harassment and false reporting (see here) but don’t seem to have learnt anything from that.

The reply from South Yorkshire Police Professional Standards is sloppy, fails to answer my concerns and is a case study in obfuscation:

 I can see that we received a call from the victim who was put straight throught to the crime recording bureau who determine if there are relevant lines of enquiries and will attach an OIC (officer in charge), if this is the case and on this occasion Pc XXX was allocated.”

Did the alleged ‘victim’ (the farmer) dial 101 or phone an officer direct? The spelling mistake is theirs and indicative of an unprofessional response.

“It was Pc XXX who received a VRM and continued to investigate the allegations….. It was then that you also told Pc XXX that you used the vehicle and often visited the location where the victim had allegedly seen your car. As the victim was unable to provide evidence that would prove your car had been in the area where the damage had occurred and as you had provided reasonable excuse as for your whereabouts the investigation was filed as evidential differences.”

A VRM is a car registration (but that’s not explained). This is the only piece of “evidence” and it’s not actually evidence at all because the alleged ‘victim’ (the farmer) couldn’t show my vehicle was anywhere near where the alleged damage took place.

“Pc XXX states that he/she does not believe he/she investigated a false allegation”

But there’s no evidence of any damage and no evidence that I or my vehicle were near any alleged damage! My car registration appears to have been plucked out of thin air, but of course it wasn’t and the police made no reference to the earlier online abuse I’d logged with them which would have shown what this allegation was really about.

The reply from Professional Standards continued:

“I did also ask Pc XXX regarding your complaint that he/she suggested that you should pay an amount of money to a famer, Pc XXX states that he/she explained the possible outcomes of criminal damage investigations so when he/she explained a CJU10 process he/she would have used this as an example but did not accuse or request the complainant to do this. It was purely an explanation of how a CJU10 works.”

Any the wiser? Me neither. There was a presumption of guilt, no explanation of possible outcomes and I still don’t know what a CJU10 is.

Given this is a department that oversees the professionalism of a major police force, the detail here is appalling. But it’s important to consider the bigger picture as well. A police officer knocking on the door making accusations is intimidating without doubt. This police force is happy to do that on the basis of no evidence, so who made the report and what influence do they have?

Police Professional Standards part 2 – Not Again

A week after South Yorks Police knocked on my door I had a phone call from Derbyshire Police with a virtually identical allegation.

On the day another abusive article about me was published by the same astroturfing grouse shooting industry reps who’d published the advent calendar of hate, I was on a Derbyshire grouse moor recording environmental damage caused by quad bikes. I’d set off from a busy car park but mine was the last car remaining in the afternoon. The local gamekeeper appeared, there was an altercation and as a result I made a police report for threatening/intimidating behaviour.

The officer assigned to investigate this case later justified the gamekeeper’s abusive behaviour by telling me the gamekeeper “knew” I’d damaged his snares. And once again no evidence was provided that there were any snares at all, no evidence of any damage or how that damage had occurred. But the wildlife crime officer I spoke to was certain these “traps” had been damaged when I was on the moor. This case did seem different because the officer was part of a supposedly experienced, specialist team (Derbyshire Police’s rural crime team).

I asked Derbyshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards department to consider if there was bias and collusion in this officer’s investigation. Four months on my complaint hasn’t yet been answered.

Escalation to Criminal Damage

Despite these and other incidents I kept going out on the moors and a few weeks later discovered that someone had stuck a crowbar into the bumper of my vehicle, when it was parked next to a grouse moor.

The car dealer quoted £1200 for a repair – ironic because that will be more than the value of all the snares in the Peak District. I opted for a lesser repair and of course the police had no idea who was responsible.

[Criminal damage caused to Bob’s car when parked next to a Peak District grouse moor. Photo by Bob Berzins]

Policing priorities in the Peak District

Through Freedom of Information requests, I have a redacted copy of the minutes of a May 2019 meeting between Peak District police forces and the gamekeepers of Peak District Moorland Group.

Supposedly dealing with wildlife crime, from the minutes it’s obvious the priority in this meeting was trap tampering.

The minutes document proposals for a national database of trap damage and 360 degree surveillance cameras in car parks which would just happen to put every visitor on a police database. Of course there’s no mention of similar surveillance of vulnerable raptor nests.

The Moorland Monitors group was mentioned but the detail had been redacted. There was also mention of gamekeepers getting direct access to wildlife crime officers.

To me, it seems to be a short step to bypass any evidential-based procedure to targeting individuals because gamekeepers and police apparently “know” who is guilty. 

A Criminal Network

It’s clear to me that the range and geographical spread of abusive incidents indicates a number of people are involved who are communicating and sharing information with the aim of harassment, intimidation and criminal damage.

That’s my definition of organised crime – a term often used to describe the widespread raptor persecution we all know about – and that crime has now escalated to targeting anyone who objects to the shooting industry.

ENDS

  


36 Responses to “Organised crime, harassment & intimidation – another day on the grouse moors (guest blog)”


  1. 1 Sue
    July 18, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    This report sends shivers down my spine. Collusion between gamekeepers and Derbyshire police. How the hell do we combat that?!

  2. 2 Mr Carbo
    July 18, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    I met Bob when , out of the blue , he contacted me as he was coming to Scotland , specifically to the Angus Glens and wanted me to show him around . Bob had heard of my ferreting around the local estates and highlighting the traps , snares ,stink pits etc. I showed Bob around a number of glens and estates that weekend and it was a depressing event what with the obvious signs of moorland mismanagement . Bob`s enthusiasm encouraged me to start Angus Glens Monitors facebook page and I have never looked back . The price of course has been online abuse to me and encounters with keepers who have anger issues. I will not go into detail about what I have endured but all I can say is that every time I get a knock back from the DGS fraternity it just re enforces my resolve to stand up to them and highlight the issues we are all passionate about . The Mr Carbo cartoons are another way I have expressed my feelings of their futile argument and stance . I see Bob as an inspiration and a bloody good author . Snared , the book , is Bob at his best . What a way to express your disgust and distaste at what you see when out on your local moors . There is a sense of change in the air and we must be resolute to achieve our goal . It will happen .

  3. 4 Paul V Irving
    July 18, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Dreadful, I think in the first instance when the PC accused me on my doorstep I’d have said what evidence and when said officer essentially said none I would have politely told them to F off. This is something that has not directly affected me although I have in the past been threatened by three different keepers, but I have come across it in Bowland a little over ten years ago, difficult to prove or stop but the main officer in question is no longer in the police. Trap tampering is NOT wildlife crime it is property crime and WCOs or whatever they are called now should treat it as such and as with all crime there is a need for evidence and not just some bloody keepers say so. Bob I’d buy a surveillance camera I can point at my car whenever I leave it in one of these places. We cannot let the bastards win

  4. 7 sog
    July 18, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    We need a response from Derbyshire Police before they lose whatever credibility they retain this far. Perhaps you could forward this to their Press Office for them to comment.

  5. 9 Boaby
    July 18, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    wonder how often police are checking vehicle registrations of “persons suspected of damaging traps” and these details are passed to gamekeepers as part of “enquiries” .

    crow bar rammed into the boot of a car unusual for a thief to adopt this approach unless they were looking to steal a spare wheel!

    gamekeepers are using ” damage to traps” as a way of legitimising harassing and threatening behaviour towards any person accessing their land.

    the pattern is very clear; its the same estates where illegally killed birds of prey keep turning up.

    police should wise up and stop being used in this way

  6. 10 Stephen Dick
    July 18, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    Wow ! So on the basis of a complaint with no evidence the Police have the resources to send an officer out to interview someone, yet many forces don’t even send someone out to investigate crime such as burglary! Who has the influence to direct the Police to use their limited resources to investigate a low level crime such as trap damage? Where the victim impact is low and there is little chance of apprehending the perpetrator?

    Oh of course the land owner will be a member of the local power group and no doubt have the ears of certain high ups in the police Force!

    As for not tackling the clear online abuse, of which there is ample evidence and more than a clue to the perpetrators, that is a disgraceful failing on the part of the Police. If it were me I would be doing three things, one complaining about such treatment to the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner. Two, advising the local media of what had happened and that you had made the complaint. Three writing to my local MP again with all the details and request that they look into the matter.

  7. 11 George M
    July 18, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    I had a similar experience while living in Glen Esk. i was being harrassed on a regular basis by a gamekeeper — always armed — and, when he assaulted me, I complained to Tayside Constabulary. He was given a warning and told to sat clear of me. Apparantly he must have accepted the warning but ignored it as a few days later when I was with my wife, he once more stopped his landrover — with shotgun showing — and began to verbally harrass me again. When I instructed my wife to activate the audio on the cell phone he indicated that he knew what was going on and left.
    This, too, was reported to Tayside Police but, to my knowledge, no action was taken.
    Within a week or two i heard that the gamekeeper had obtained employment with xxxxxxxxxxxxx as a beat keeper on a grouse moor. I had been anticipating that he might be held to account for his behaviour but, obviously, I was mistaken. As it happens the Factor of the Estate, whom I met with my solicitor present, was also involved with the xxxxxxxxxxxx estate where this gamekeeper was employed while under investigation for crimes involving physical violence and harrassment. (As he accepted the police warning it would appear that at that time he was admitting to his behaviour.) The gamekeeper is, to my knowledge, still employed at this estate which is now xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
    Worse was yet to come as they began a course of action which saw me forced to leave my house. I have kept the relevant paperwork as I tend to do in any dispute.

  8. 12 Keith Dancey
    July 18, 2021 at 11:19 pm

    To those who look for political bias behind raptor persecution (and Police ‘indifference’ to wildlife crime) it should be pointed out that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire (from 2016 to 2021) was a member of the Labour Party (according to the Derbyshire Police web site and Wikipedia).

    (Note the date of the meeting between the Peak District Police and gamekeepers from the Peak District Moorland Group in the report above)

    Since the elections on 6th May 2021, a new Police and Crime Commissioner was elected, from the Tory Party.

    According to the Derbyshire Police web site, the outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner worked ‘tirelessly with the force.. to make Derbyshire a safe place to work, live and visit’

    The new Police and Crime Commissioner pledges – according to the PCC web site – ‘to put the law-abiding citizen at the centre of all policing policies and priorities in Derbyshire to keep local people and their families safe’

    Neither claim sounds like it to me.

    The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioners (elected in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2021) have always been members of the Labour Party, the current incumbent declaring ‘I will continue to ensure that the priorities of the public are reflected in policing and crime decisions and that communities feel safe. I will continue to ensure that victims of crime have their crime investigated and receive the support they need’, according to Wikipedia and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner web site.

    And that doesn’t sound like it to me, either.

    Organised crime goes deep, very deep.

  9. 13 Spaghnum Morose
    July 19, 2021 at 6:45 am

    I don’t want to do their thinking for them, but why don’t Derbyshire police just do the job properly and launch their notorious drone to follow Bob about all day.

    • 14 Spaghnum Morose
      July 19, 2021 at 7:06 am

      Ps I have wondered down the years at the way keepers really don’t like people even looking at never mind photographing their stoat traps, crow traps, snares, hides, etc. I think it has a bit to do with the concern that a mangled Wheatear or long dead Badger could be found and cause bad publicity – but most tbh care less about this than the loss of their privacy. It is an ego thing to do with a keeper feeling an impotent loss of absolutism and mastery over their once private kingdom. The myth that it is just ‘them and nature’ is exploded when ‘townie’ ramblers and others start popping up all over and posting photos of their handiwork on social media.

  10. 17 AndyH
    July 19, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Dear Bob Berzins

    You are an inspiration to all the people that care about what is happening to our natural heritage.
    Please don’t be put off by the nasty brigade; they are bullies, and bullies are cowards – they don’t know any other way of responding – they treat their fellow humans in the same way that they treat the wildlife, with contempt.
    The environmental carers will eventually win the battle against the wildlife killers, and with great people like you Bob, dedicated to the cause, the win will come soon.
    I think there needs to be a new ‘Line of Duty’ drama/documentary highlighting the realities of the relationship between the Police and landowners/gamekeepers – exposing such a situation that you and your fellow fighters have to put up with.

  11. 18 Trimarc2
    July 19, 2021 at 8:31 am

    As someone who has been followed in an aggressive manner while walking legally on a grouse moor, I sympathise with Bob and encourage all of us to show support for him. How can the current management of grouse moors still be legal in this day and age? More publicity is needed of the barbaric and anti wildlife practices of the grouse moor owners and their associates and employees.

  12. 19 Les Angus Wallace
    July 19, 2021 at 10:09 am

    Very sorry for the harassment you’re going through Bob, but also very glad for your commitment – I saw you at the Revive AGM a couple of years ago, but never got the chance to say hello. I’ve met quite a few people now who are on the frontline regarding raptor persecution, which here in Falkirk I’m most definitely not. Without exception they’ve been brilliant people, not surprising as anyone caring about what’s not do with their own physical comfort or aspirations is thereby pretty selfless and conscientious, and will very likely have a higher than average concern for their fellow humanity too. The fact that good people are being subjected to various forms of abuse and lies by what are the very dregs of humanity is pretty bloody close to actual raptor killing itself in how disgusting and infuriating this whole affair is. I’ve spoken to a few people now who at one time had been grouse beating. The one thing they really noticed was how badly gamekeepers treated their dogs, absolutely hammering them for not quite doing their job, threatening to leave a dog to die if it couldn’t get itself out of a boggy hole. That really speaks volumes as to what sort of people the majority of keepers truly are and what raptor workers are up against. Best of luck Bob and I’m looking forward to reading ‘Snared’.

  13. 20 Paul V Irving
    July 19, 2021 at 11:16 am

    According to the recent book by, the DGS supporting townie, Ian Coghill ” Moorland Matters” all Moorland Monitor groups are made up of extreme animal rights activists who damage traps and snares wholesale. Yes of course its BS but it shows how the dark side try to twist the truth and doubtless an number of police officers will accept this BS. Bob is true inspirational hero and I’m sure I’m not the only one to believe individual police officers and possibly forces have acted appallingly in these events.

  14. 21 Dougie
    July 19, 2021 at 11:24 am

    An excellent contribution from Bob Berzins. It is a disgraceful and criminal state of affairs that requires continuous publicity.
    On this blog the police come in for justified serious criticism from time to time. On occasion they also are praised. However, being praiseworthy some of the time is simply far short of what is required.
    Failure to achieve much in the investigation of wildlife crime is a major shortcoming that, by itself, is bad enough. Nevertheless, what Bob describes is a situation that is of grave concern to every law abiding person because it poses a very simple question – can the police be trusted ?
    There are, undoubtedly, police officers who will be alarmed and disgusted, but who feel powerless to help. Therein lies the route to calamity. When those involved in law enforcement fail to abide strictly by the book a pernicious slide towards law and order breakdown can become an avalanche.

  15. July 19, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Very disturbing read!

    • July 19, 2021 at 11:40 am

      Sorry meant Bob’s blog was disturbing to read fir obvious reasons. . Sometimes I’m almost speechless at the audacity and subversion going on between gamekeepers and the people who are meant to be protecting us from hate and violence!

  16. 24 Graeme Rose
    July 19, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    You have my sympathy. In April 1994 I was parked on a public road in the well named Dark Peak watching two men about to enter a goshawk breeding wood with shotguns. They saw me watching them and managed to get my car registration. A week later I received a threatening letter from the estate telling me the police would be called and I would be ejected from their land if I was ever found on their moor again. Note I hadn’t been on the moor. I assumed Derbyshire Police had issued the estate with my home address (obtained from DVLA) so I complained to them. They replied that the gamekeepers had seen a letter on the back seat of my car with my address on it. Utter bollocks. I threatened legal action against the estate and received a formal apology. Moral of the tale: Derbyshire Police being bent would be nothing new.

  17. 25 Simon Tucker
    July 19, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    [Ed: comment deleted. I can’t publish that, Simon. It needs to be focused, on topic and evidence-based. If it’s your opinion rather than factually based, you need to make clear that it’s only your opinion. Thanks]

  18. 26 Frances
    July 19, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    [Ed: Comment deleted. Frances, I’m pretty sure we’ve been here before. I can’t publish accusations like that unless I can see that they’re evidence-based and I simply don’t have the time to research this stuff]

  19. 27 Frances
    July 19, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    I am very disappointed as much of my post was factual and gave Bob some good information on how to proceed. In future I won’t waste my time posting on this site, or looking at it in view of the attitude you have. I appreciate you need to consider libel but you are ignoring Article 10 Human Rights act 2000, the right to freedom of expression. I can vouch for everything I put on that post. The site will never achieve anything if you continue to maintain such an approach. Is there any way you can send my post, or details to Bob?

    • July 19, 2021 at 3:35 pm

      Frances,

      I’m afraid a defence of, ‘Well, Frances told me it was accurate’ and ‘I was upholding Frances’s human rights’ isn’t going to get me very far if I get sued for libel!

      If you want to remove all the libellous commentary I’ll be happy to publish your advice to Bob.

    • 29 Sue
      July 24, 2021 at 8:32 am

      Hi Frances. I really do believe that Ruth is behaving responsibly. I’m sure your comments (obviously I can’t see them) are accurate. However, these statements should never be published unless the writer has evidence. Ruth clearly doesn’t have time to verify your claims and therefore cannot publish them. These principles also protect you. Please don’t abandon Ruth’s blog as we must all stand together on these very important issues. I know how strongly you feel. We all feel strongly about these terrible crimes committed against wildlife and the abuse meted out to people like Bob. You can direct message Bob on twitter if you have some valuable info/advice. @BerzinsBob. Thanks for reading this post

  20. 30 David
    July 19, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    And then there are those of us who actually live on a shooting estate as an outed ‘wildlife activist’ (not my choice: I kind of blundered into it in an incident involving some snares) and who have to live with the continual surveillance (visual and radar, both monitored continuously) which drives extra hostile traffic past my isolated house in a carefully regulated way, regulated as in Chinese water torture: drip, drip, drip every minute or else whenever I show presence, outdoors or indoors. Then there’s the hacking of my devices (beware, they make excellent tools for spying on you if they’ve been infected with Pegusus spyware which, if it’s an Apple device can only be countered by carrying out a factory reset. It seems to have worked for me if that’s what it was). And the nocturnal disturbances and …. more … But no confrontation with the game keeper as other accounts have spoken of. My experience reveals a programme of action that is more sophisticated and organised and intended to either cow me into hiding or else to move away from the area. And it leaves me with no evidence to take to the local police who have been unwilling to help me even if they had wanted to. (Which they didn’t unless they’ve been doing some horse-trading on my behalf to spare me from an even worse outcome given that I live alone with little local support and there are scores of them acting against me judging by all the different cars involved in the ‘pa-trolling’).
    All this to say: beware, this conflict is not only about aggressive gamekeepers encountered out on the moors. The ‘Klan’ as I call it is ready and prepared to go after anyone anywhere and by whatever means are most appropriate. And I fear it has lots of support in positions of authority and influence across the country. And without organisation and leadership I fear our compassion and superior arguments will not be enough to bring about the change we long for.
    With that off my chest it’s time to brave the pa-trolling and do some work in the garden. Grrrr!

  21. 31 Jane Robertson
    July 19, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    Evenin’ All,
    Is it legal to ask for compensation payment on the basis of no evidence at all? How strange.
    Look, I bet S. Yorks and Derbyshire police forces have kept all their DVDs of The Sweeney and vintage copies of Dixon of Dock Green. You’ll find them in the tea rooms. Ahh, the good old days, when bobbies could rely on gut feelings and a nod and a wink from, well, from just about anybody, as long as it got the job done.
    This must be why the systematic, criminal eradication of protected species is rarely (surely that should be ‘never’?) prosecuted – there’s too much actual evidence! It’s overwhelming.
    And there I was thinking it was because resources are limited. They have to focus on crimes such as rape. But no, wrong again, I see in 2019-20 only 3.6% of recorded rapes resulted in prosecution.
    Still, it’s good to know the shooting fraternity have mates they can rely on.

  22. 32 Tim Quantrill
    July 19, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    I had the same when I was a hunt saboteur in Gloucestershire in the 90s. The police would target us and not the hunt supporters who were abusive and intimidating to us, who were driving without seat belts, speeding and driving dangerously. They got away with anything but if one of us or our vehicles did the slightest bit wrong we were pulled over and questioned. Police forces all over the country seem to still be the landowners public security firm

  23. 33 Frances
    July 20, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    Ruth,

    A statement has to be untrue and malicious to constitute libel. The posts I have made contain factual matter which is true. It is not malicious. For your information I have posted similar material, possibly things more forthright, on other sites and blogs without having a problem. I consider the tone of our remarks to be offensive if not abusive and won’t entertain having anything more to do with this site.

    It has to be said that if there is to be a change to the current situation of raptor persecution, then this will not be achieved by writing about it, or posting comments on what has been written. These are a total waste of time. Direct action is called for and those who engage in it experience the same as Bob.

    • July 23, 2021 at 4:23 pm

      Hi again, Frances,

      I think you’re missing the point. I know that you believe the comments you made contained ‘factual matter which is true. It is not malicious’. The point is, I have no way of substantiating those ‘facts’ and as such, I can’t publish them. This is not a personal attack on your integrity – it is simply me acting as a responsible publisher and exercising caution in favour of the individual you wrote about.

      Imagine, for example, if I was sued by the individual for publishing defamatory comments about them. The conversation in court might go something like this:

      Prosecuting lawyer: ‘You have published defamatory comments about my client’.

      Me: ‘But Frances said they were ‘factual’ and ‘not malicious”.

      Prosecuting lawyer: ‘Do you know Frances’?

      Me: ‘No’.

      Prosecuting lawyer: ‘Have you ever met Frances?’

      Me: ‘No’

      Prosecuting lawyer: ‘Do you even know who Frances is? Is he/she using a pseudonym?’

      Me: ‘I have no idea’.

      Prosecuting lawyer: ‘So you’ve never met Frances, you have no idea who she/he is, and yet you’re willing to publish a libellous comment because Frances told you it was true?’

  24. 35 John L
    July 20, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Unless I have missed it. I don’t think any of the comments mention the Independent Office for Police Conduct? Members of the public can complain directly to the IOPC. Complaints aren’t limited to the actions of an individual officer, but can also include complaints about policing standards or policing policy, and how a police force is being run.
    As with all legal matters, it is important to have evidence to help substantiate a complaint.

    If those involved in trying to expose the truth about what is happening in the countryside find themselves the victim of harassment by an estate, or unwarranted attention by the police due to false allegations being made, then it is probably a good idea to keep a detailed diary of incidents, so that a full picture of what is happening can be established.

    It should be remembered that the police have a duty to investigate if they receive allegations of a crime taking place. Those working to end raptor persecution rightly expect the police to investigate raptor crimes. However much commentators might disagree with what takes on grouse moors, those employed to manage those moors also have a right to expect the police to investigate when criminal damage takes place on those moors.

    However, if these allegations of criminal damage are false and maliciously directed towards an individual, then that clearly isn’t right.

    The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes it an offence for a person to engage in a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another, and that person knew or ought to know it amounts to harassment of the other.

    The legislation exempts the police if their actions are pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime.

    I would hope that if a person is subject to repeated false allegations regarding damage to property on grouse moors, the police would pick up on this. That person would clearly be the victim of course of conduct by the person making the false allegations, which may amount to harassment.
    This is certainly something the victim should complain to the police about.
    However, this would be complicated if those allegations of damage were coming from different sources and made to different police forces.

    If a police force is clearly showing bias in how it conducts its investigations, then that is probably a matter which should be complained to the IOPC about.

    We expect the police to behave in an open, and honest manner; and investigate matters in an unbiased and transparent way, with the focus on establishing the truth. Failure to do this not only undermines the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public, but also prevents the legal system functioning properly and upholding the law.

  25. 36 Ian Robinson
    July 21, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Have Bob’s MP, the relevant Police Commissioners, and the Home Office been made aware of all this? The thuggery involved is quite bad enough but the level of police conduct involved is scandalously incompetent and nearing corrupt. Heads should be rolling.


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