Posts Tagged ‘gin trap

15
Jun
17

Law professor comments on inadmissibility of video evidence in wildlife crime prosecutions

As regular blog readers will be aware, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the public prosecutors in Scotland, have, in the space of two months, either dropped or refused to prosecute five cases of alleged wildlife crime. These include:

25 March 2017 – gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough (Dalreoch Estates), accused of the alleged use of illegal gin traps. Prosecution dropped due to paperwork blunder by Crown Office.

11 April 2017 – landowner Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), accused of being allegedly vicariously liable for the actions of his gamekeeper who had earlier been convicted for killing a buzzard by stamping on it and dropping rocks on to it. Prosecution dropped due to ‘not being in the public interest’.

21 April 2017 – gamekeeper Stanley Gordon (Cabrach Estate), accused of the alleged shooting of a hen harrier. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

25 April 2017 – gamekeeper Craig Graham (Brewlands Estate), accused of allegedly setting and re-setting an illegal pole trap. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

21 May 2017 – an unnamed 66 year old gamekeeper (Edradynate Estate), suspected of alleged involvement with the poisoning of three buzzards. Crown Office refused to prosecute, despite a plea to do so by Police Scotland.

Two of these cases (Cabrach Estate and Brewlands Estate) were dropped due to the COPFS deciding that the use of RSPB video evidence, on which the prosecutions relied, was inadmissible.

There has been widespread public condemnation and political concern about these decisions, especially in the case of the alleged shooting of a hen harrier on Cabrach Estate in Morayshire. The Crown Office has attempted to explain the decisions but many questions remain unanswered for those of us who don’t have the legal expertise, or all the case details, to challenge the COPFS decisions.

We read with interest, then, a blog that was published yesterday written by Peter Duff, Professor of Criminal Justice at Aberdeen University. His blog, entitled ‘The law of evidence, video footage, and wildlife conservation: did COPFS make the correct decisions?‘ deals specifically with the Cabrach & Brewlands cases and can be read here.

We thoroughly recommend reading it. It’s important to read the perspective of an independent, expert academic who has no axe to grind on either side of the debate. It’s hard for those of us who are either tainted by years of frustration about criminal raptor killers getting away with it, or those with a vested interest in raptor killers avoiding prosecution, to take an unbiased view of the law and its application, so Professor Duff’s opinion is a valuable contribution to the debate. Not only that, it’s great to see this issue receiving wider coverage than the usual commentators.

That’s not to say we agree with his interpretation though! In short, Professor Duff concludes that the COPFS decisions were “perfectly reasonable”, and he explains his reasoning for this, but, crucially, some of what he writes does not take in to account previous case law on this issue, perhaps because he was unaware of such cases?

For example, Professor Duff states: ” In my view also, for what it is worth, I agree that the courts would not excuse such an irregularity in obtaining the video evidence and prosecutions would be fruitless“.

First of all, the Scottish courts HAVE excused the irregularity of obtaining video evidence without the landowner’s permission and far from those prosecutions being ‘fruitless’, they actually resulted in the conviction of the accused (e.g. see the Marshall trial here and the Mutch trial here).

During the Marshall trial, there were several hours of legal argument about the admissibility of the video evidence. The Sheriff accepted the video evidence, commenting that the RSPB presence on the gamekeeper’s estate [from where the video was filmed] was “neither illegal nor irregular, and the intent to obtain evidence did not make it so“.  This is no different to the recent Cabrach case.

During the Mutch trial, again involving several hours of legal argument about the admissibility of evidence, the Sheriff accepted that the RSPB had not placed the video camera with the purpose of gathering evidence for prosecution, but they had placed it as part of a legitimate survey in to the use of traps. This is no different to the recent Cabrach case.

There is also an on-going trial at the moment (concerning alleged fox hunting) that relies heavily on video evidence filmed on privately-owned land without the landowner’s permission. The court has accepted the video evidence as admissible (although we can’t comment too much on this as the trial is still live).

So on that basis, we profoundly disagree with Professor Duff’s opinion that covertly filmed video evidence would not be accepted by the Scottish courts. It already has been, on several occasions, resulting in convictions. The question remains then, why did the COPFS decide it was inadmissible? Somebody within the Crown Office (presumably an experienced lawyer from with the Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit) decided, when this case was first marked, that the video evidence was admissible. It took nine court hearings over a period of a year before the COPFS decided that the video evidence was inadmissible. We still don’t know the basis for that decision. And the other related question to this is why didn’t the COPFS let the court make the decision? It’s this inconsistency of approach that has caused so much confusion, and as Professor Duff writes, ‘bewilderment’.

Professor Duff also writes: “The actions by the RSPB [of placing a covert camera] are a breach of the right to privacy of both the estate owners and their employees (whilst not quite analogous, imagine if your neighbour installed a secret camera to record everything that went on in your garden)“. Sorry, but it’s quite absurd to compare these two scenarios given the size difference between these two types of landholdings. Nobody could argue that placing a covert camera to film somebody’s back garden wouldn’t be a breach of privacy, as you’d reasonably expect to see the human occupants on a daily basis. But on a multi-thousand acre estate, far from any private dwelling? Come on, “not quite analogous” is one hell of an understatement. And not only that, in the Cabrach case, the camera was aimed at the nest of Schedule 1 hen harrier, which by law cannot be approached/disturbed without an appropriate licence from SNH so you wouldn’t expect to film anybody anywhere near the nest.

All in all then, Professor Duff’s interpretation of the law, whilst useful, still doesn’t explain, or justify, the decisions made by the Crown Office in these two cases.

And questions still remain about the decisions to drop the other three cases (gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough of Dalreoch Estates; landowner Andrew Duncan of Newlands Estate; an unnamed gamekeeper of Edradynate Estate), none of which were reliant upon video evidence.

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06
Jun
17

Crown Office drops 5th case of alleged wildlife crime

Public prosecutors from Scotland’s Crown Office have dropped yet another case of alleged wildlife crime.

According to an article in the Sunday Post (see here), gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough, 32, had been charged after he was allegedly caught with illegal gin traps covered in animal blood, with dead fox cubs found nearby, in May 2016. It is reported Goodenough was employed at the time by Dalreoch Farming & Sporting Estates, owned by the well-connected Wellesley family. It was alleged that Goodenough was using the illegal traps on a neighbouring farm in Ayrshire.

The case was due to be heard at Ayr Sheriff Court on 27 March 2017 but two days prior to the hearing, the Crown Office dropped the case ‘after getting the dates wrong on its paperwork’.

This latest case brings the total of recently abandoned prosecutions for alleged wildlife crime to five. That’s five abandoned cases in the space of two months:

25 March 2017 – gamekeeper John Charles Goodenough (Dalreoch Estates), accused of the alleged use of illegal gin traps. Prosecution dropped due to paperwork blunder by Crown Office.

11 April 2017 – landowner Andrew Duncan (Newlands Estate), accused of being allegedly vicariously liable for the actions of his gamekeeper who had earlier been convicted for killing a buzzard by stamping on it and dropping rocks on to it. Prosecution dropped due to ‘not being in the public interest’.

21 April 2017 – gamekeeper Stanley Gordon (Cabrach Estate), accused of the alleged shooting of a hen harrier. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

25 April 2017 – gamekeeper Craig Graham (Brewlands Estate), accused of allegedly setting and re-setting an illegal pole trap. Prosecution dropped as video evidence deemed inadmissible.

21 May 2017 – an unnamed 66 year old gamekeeper (Edradynate Estate), suspected of alleged involvement with the poisoning of three buzzards. Crown Office refused to prosecute, despite a plea to do so by Police Scotland.

Given how difficult it is to get just one wildlife crime case anywhere near a court, to have five abandoned in the space of two months does not inspire confidence in the criminal justice system.

In fact such was the public concern about some of these cases being abandoned due to the supposed inadmissibility of video evidence, last month the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee wrote to the Crown Office to ask for an explanation (see here).

The Crown Office has now responded with this: COPFS letter to ECCLR_EvidenceAdmissibility_May2017

We are not legally qualified to comment in depth about how good or how poor the Crown Office’s response is. If any of our legally-minded readers (Adam?) would like to comment, please do so.

However, what we can say is that this response does not address the question of why the Crown Office made the decision about inadmissibility instead of allowing a court to decide, as has happened in previous cases (e.g. see here).

Nor does this response address the question of why the Crown Office did not believe the RSPB ‘s explanation for their use of video surveillance for monitoring a hen harrier breeding attempt at Cabrach Estate. The Crown Office maintains, without explanation, that the RSPB had installed the video ‘for the purpose of detecting crime’, whereas the RSPB maintains the camera was installed as part of a legitimate monitoring study, an explanation which had been accepted by both the Crown and the court in a similar situation in another case (here).

The RSPB’s case is not so strong in the Brewlands Estate case, where a camera was installed to monitor an illegal pole trap (a trap that the RSPB had since made safe by flicking on the safety catch), although the circumstances might have been different had the police been able to attend the scene as soon as they were notified of an illegally-set trap. Nevertheless, the fact that the Crown Office allowed a year’s worth of court hearings to pass by before deciding to abandon this case, and their unwillingness to communicate their specific concerns to the RSPB, is yet to be adequately addressed by the Crown Office.

The Crown Office’s response also does not explain (although to be fair, it wasn’t asked to) why dropping the prosecution against Andrew Duncan for alleged vicarious liability was deemed to be ‘not in the public interest’, and nor does it explain why a prosecution was not brought against the unnamed Edradynate Estate gamekeeper for the alleged poisoning of three buzzards, despite pleas from Police Scotland to do so.

The Crown Office’s letter to the Environment Committee ends with this:

COPFS remains committed to tackling wildlife crime, including raptor persecution. There is a strong presumption in favour of prosecution in cases reported to the Service where there is sufficient admissible evidence and prosecution is in the public interest‘.

You could have fooled us.

To be honest, as frustrating as it was to see these cases abandoned for what seem to us to be spurious reasons, the Crown Office’s unimpressive performance has probably helped move things along, because these dropped cases came at the time when the Scottish Government was already under severe public pressure to do something other than make vague promises to tackle wildlife crime. That’s not to say we are pleased with the outcome of these cases – far from it – but it’s quite likely that these failed prosecutions helped tip the balance and persuaded the Scottish Government that actually, the current system is failing and they need to find new ways of addressing the problem.

14
Jan
17

Public funds to promote wildlife criminals in Scotland?

In December 2016 we blogged about the ‘Game for Growth’ strategy, which is a plan to promote Scottish country sports and boost its value to the economy. The strategy, which was launched at a parliamentary reception on 20th December 2016 (here) is being led by the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) and is being part-funded by VisitScotland using tax payers’ money (see here).

You may recall that Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman lodged a parliamentary question about the use of these public funds, as follows:

Question S5W-05930: Andy Wightman (Lothian, Scottish Green Party). Date lodged: 22/12/2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of the recipients of financial contributions from VisitScotland to the strategy, Game for Growth Strategy – Country Sports Tourism in Scotland 2016; what information it has regarding how each recipient will use this; what action it has taken to ensure that no money was provided to the owners or managers of landholdings on which crimes against wildlife have been committed; whether it will publish the strategy on its website, and what aspects of this it is supporting or plans to support with public money.

This question has now been answered:

Answered by Fiona Hyslop MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs) on 11/1/2017:

VisitScotland has approved a grant of £17,925 to the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group to promote Scotland as the destination of choice for all country sports. The Group will use this to develop content and supporting digital activity to attract visitors from across the UK and Scandinavia. As this money is for a specific project, no funding will be provided to individual estates or land owners. There is no intention to publish the strategy on VisitScotland’s website and so there will be no funding support for this.

It’s an interesting response. It does clarify that public funds (at least these public funds) will not be given directly to individual estates or landowners, but it is also clear that individual estates will still benefit from this public funding, albeit indirectly, because the SCSTG will use the funds to promote these individual estates as part of an online PR campaign.

In our December blog, we noted that the SCSTG website was promoting the Dunmhor Sporting Agency as a provider of country sports activities in Scotland:

We were surprised to see Dunmhor Sporting being promoted on the SCSTG website because Graham Christie of Dunmhor Sporting was convicted in December 2015 of being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who had used an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard on the Cardross Estate. We just looked at the SCSTG’s website again and Dunmhor Sporting is still being promoted as a country sports provider.

So much for the game shooting industry ousting its criminal members.

We wonder whether the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, is aware that a now (part) publicly funded organisation (the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group) is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal and if so, whether she thinks this is an appropriate use of public funds?

Emails to: scottish.ministers@gov.scot and mark it FAO Fiona Hyslop

27
Dec
16

Parliamentary reception for group promoting wildlife criminal

Yesterday we blogged about the launch of the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group’s new initiative, Game for Growth, aimed at promoting the value of country sports to the Scottish economy (see here).

We mentioned that Andy Wightman MSP had lodged a Parliamentary Question asking whether public funds (via VisitScotland as part of the Game for Growth initiative) had been given to the owners or managers of landholdings where wildlife crime had taken place.

We also mentioned our surprise that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group’s website is promoting a sporting agent with a current conviction for raptor persecution.

What we didn’t mention was that the launch of the Game for Growth initiative took place at a prestigious parliamentary reception at Holyrood on 20 December 2016, with wide media coverage.

This parliamentary reception was hosted by Edward Mountain MSP (Conservative, Highlands & Islands) and included speeches from Malcolm Roughead, Chief Exec of VisitScotland, and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP.

Here is a photo of some of the attendees: (L-R: Tim (Kim) Baynes from the Gift of Grouse, Malcolm Roughead from VisitScotland, Edward Mountain MSP (host), and Sarah Troughton from the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group).

The revelation that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group is actively promoting a convicted wildlife criminal will probably be a surprise to Edward Mountain MSP, and undoubtedly a source of deep embarrassment; he surely wouldn’t have hosted them had he known. It’s reasonable to assume he didn’t know because his expertise appears to be in fishing rather than gamebird hunting. Sustainable sport fishing does bring in millions to the rural economy and it isn’t underpinned by wildlife crime, so it’s easy to see why he would lend support to the Game for Growth initiative.

Unfortunately for Edward, as well as the sport fishing industry, the Gift of Grouse is also prominently involved with the Game for Growth initiative (check out that banner in the photo) and this isn’t the first parliamentary reception they’ve been involved with that has led to awkward questions being asked.

We await the Scottish Government’s response to Andy Wightman’s Parliamentary Questions about public funding for wildlife criminals with great interest.

26
Dec
16

Parliamentary Question: is public money being used to promote wildlife criminals in Scottish shooting sector?

scstg-logoLast week it was announced that the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) has plans to boost the value of game shooting, stalking and fishing to the rural economy by £30 million, via its new ‘Game for Growth’ strategy.

The Game for Growth strategy document can be read here: sctsg-game-for-growth-strategy-document-dec-2016

It’s a pretty turgid read, full of tedious marketing soundbites, but basically it sets out how the industry plans to promote Scottish country sports over the next four years to reach a wider national and international market. This will be achieved mostly, it seems, by claiming the industry is sustainable with fabulous conservation benefits and ignoring the vast environmental damage and wildlife crime associated with some activities within this sector.

visit-scotland-1Interestingly, VisitScotland (the national tourism agency linked to the Scottish Government) has apparently committed to boosting the country sports tourism sector and has announced a matched ‘Growth Fund’ to help SCSTG develop its marketing strategy and increase its online presence.

We’re not the only ones to raise an eyebrow at this. Andy Wightman MSP has lodged the following Parliamentary Question about it:

Question S5W-05930: Andy Wightman (Lothian, Scottish Green Party). Date lodged: 22/12/2016

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of the recipients of financial contributions from VisitScotland to the strategy, Game for Growth Strategy – Country Sports Tourism in Scotland 2016; what information it has regarding how each recipient will use this; what action it has taken to ensure that no money was provided to the owners or managers of landholdings on which crimes against wildlife have been committed; whether it will publish the strategy on its website, and what aspects of this it is supporting or plans to support with public money.

Expected answer date: 19/01/2017

These are legitimate questions, and especially when you take a closer look at the SCSTG website, which has been developed to connect potential visitors with various country sports providers across Scotland. For example, if you want to pay money to shoot mountain hares in Scotland, you can use the website’s search facility and a number of sporting agents/estates who offer this ‘sport’ will be highlighted.

We used the search facility to look for various ‘sporting’ opportunities and were very surprised to find that sporting agency Dunmhor Sporting was being promoted:

Why the surprise? Well, Graham Christie of Dunmhor Sporting was convicted in December last year of being vicariously liable for the criminal actions of his gamekeeper, who had used an illegal gin trap to catch and injure a buzzard on the Cardross Estate.

Why is the Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group promoting an agent who has a current conviction for wildlife crime? And why is VisitScotland providing match funding to an organisation that is promoting a convicted wildlife criminal?

01
Dec
15

Sporting agent on Cardross Estate convicted in latest vicarious liability case

GrahamChristie P&J VL2Press release from the Crown Office:

A self-employed game farmer has pled guilty to wildlife offences, leading to the second conviction in Scotland by vicarious liability for wildlife crime against wild birds.

At Stirling Sheriff Court, Graham Christie was fined a total of £3,200 after admitting his liability for the crimes committed by James O’Reilly, a gamekeeper employed by him.

O’Reilly was previously sentenced to a community payback order after pleading guilty to intentionally trapping and injuring a buzzard, using an illegal gin trap, contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Despite veterinary treatment for the severe injury caused to its leg, the buzzard required to be euthanised as it would never be suitable for release back to the wild. The buzzard had been in good condition otherwise.

Graham Christie leased part of the Cardross Estate in Stirlingshire to use for his business, Dunmhor Shooting. He had employed O’Reilly as head game-keeper with responsibility for pest control on this part of the estate.

The offences were committed more than a year after the introduction of the vicarious liability legislation.

The law placed responsibility on Christie unless he could show that he took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent O’Reilly from committing the offences.

When asked by police how he was able to see what was going on ensure everything was done properly and professionally, Christie stated;

“Well I can only tell that by the amount of pheasants that were shown on a shoot day and that he was very good to be fair”.

Helen Nisbet, Head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit said:

“These offences were committed well after the vicarious liability offence was introduced and the accused had ample time in which to take advice and put appropriate measures in place.

“He failed in his responsibilities and as a result stands convicted of the killing of a wild bird using an illegal gin trap.

“Anyone who seeks to injure or kill wild birds and anyone who employs or engages the services of such persons without taking appropriate precautions to prevent these offences being committed can fully expect to be brought to account before the courts.”

Notes To Editors

1. Section 18A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the vicarious liability provisions, came into force on the 1st January 2012. They were created in an attempt to tackle raptor persecution by encouraging landowners, employers, and those with responsibility in connection with shooting to be diligent and proactive in countering wildlife crime.

2. James O’Reilly previously pled guilty to:

Intentionally injuring and taking a wild bird (a buzzard) by setting a gin trap (otherwise known as a leg hold trap) on open ground baited by a deer carcase contrary to section 1(1)(a); and,

Setting in position a trap, namely a gin trap (otherwise known as a leg hold trap) being of such a nature and so placed as to be likely to cause bodily injury to any wild birds contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

3. Section 18A(2) makes the accused guilty of the original offence and is liable to be punished accordingly.

4. Wildlife and environmental crime is a priority for COPFS. The development of specialist prosecutors and the creation of the COPFS Wildlife and Environment Crime Unit (WECU) have been significant steps forward in tackling wildlife crime. Our close working relationship with police wildlife crime officers and other specialist reporting agencies has permitted a collaborative building of expertise which has already shown impressive results. In serious cases, prosecutors work with wildlife investigators at an early stage to ensure that cases are prepared and presented to the highest standard.

WECU began operating from 15 August 2011.

END

Dunmhor Sporting LogoThis is good news, after the disappointment of the recent failure to prosecute another vicarious liability case on the Kildrummy Estate (see here). The penalty in this latest case (£3,200) is a considerable improvement on the pathetic £675 penalty given in the first successful vicarious liability case (see here), although it still falls far below what it could be and the fine itself is unlikely to act as any sort of deterrent to other would-be raptor killers. When you also consider the penalty handed to Christie’s gamekeeper for the original horrific offence (240 hours unpaid work – see here) it’s hard to get away from the sense that, although technically justice has prevailed in this case, the penalties do not reflect the seriousness of the crime. Whether the reputation of Christie’s sporting agency, Dunmhor Sporting, will suffer as a consequence of his criminal conviction remains to be seen although that would be hard to measure. Let’s hope Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod gets on with accepting the recommendations of the recent Willdife Crime Penalties Review group (see here), which include raising the penalty for this type of offence to fines of up to £40,000 and a 12 month custodial sentence. It’ll also be interesting to see whether SNH  decides to slap a General Licence Restriction Order on the Cardross Estate.

In the meantime, huge congratulations to Fiscal Kate Fleming for a successful prosecution and to all those involved with the initial investigation, especially the SSPCA.

Photo of Graham Christie from Press & Journal.

Media coverage

BBC news here

STV news here

Press & Journal here

RSPB Scotland here

21
May
15

Update on convicted gin trap gamekeeper James O’Reilly

james_oreilly gamekeeper gin trapA few updates on some of the questions we asked yesterday following the conviction of Scottish gamekeeper James O’Reilly (see here)….

1. We asked the Cardross Estate whether O’Reilly was still employed as a gamekeeper on their estate. They have issued the following statement:

CARDROSS ESTATE REFUTES WILDLIFE CRIME ALLEGATIONS

(Issued on behalf of Cardross Estate)

Cardross Estate today issued the following statement after the conviction and sentencing of a gamekeeper at Stirling Sheriff Court on offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Sir Archie Orr-Ewing, owner of Cardross Estate, said: “The reputation of the estate has been unjustly tarnished by the publicity around these court proceedings. The estate does not have any involvement whatsoever in the sporting management of the land in question. The area of land where these offences occurred is let on a long-term lease to a third party who has full rights and responsibilities for the management of sporting activity. The gamekeeper is employed by the third party and has never been employed by the estate.

“Having co-operated fully with the authorities during their investigation and having been asked to be a prosecution witness, I am bitterly disappointed that the Crown Office did not see fit to clarify the estate’s position in its public statement following the case.

“Cardross Estate is an estate that takes its land managcment responsibilities very seriously and is a business focused on the local community and the delivery of sustainable rural enterprise. In particular, we are committed to contributing to the tourism offering of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.”

END

According to some media outlets, O’Reilly no longer works on the Cardross Estate and some claim he no longer works in the gamekeeping industry.

2. We asked the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association whether O’Reilly was a member of the SGA, and if so, has he now been booted out. They have issued the following statement, which seems to carefully avoid answering the question:

SGA RESPONSE

Responding to the sentencing of a former gamekeeper, who used an illegal gin trap to catch a buzzard, a spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “This is the first we have heard about this case but, as an organisation, we are appalled. These actions have no place in modern gamekeeping and show ignorance of the legal requirements which are involved in being in the profession. They are an affront to all those who advocate high standards and take their responsibilities seriously and with care.”

END

Actually, O’Reilly’s criminal activities didn’t show ignorance of the legal requirements; according to the press statement issued by the Crown Office yesterday, O’Reilly had undertaken the snaring course (run by either GWCT or SGA) legally required for anyone wanting to set snares in Scotland. He’d passed the course so he wasn’t ignorant, he just chose to blatantly disregard the law.

We’re still interested in whether O’Reilly was an SGA member at the time he committed these offences. If you’re also interested, you too can email them again: info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk

3. We asked Scottish Land & Estates whether the Cardross Estate was a member of their organisation and if so, had it now been booted out.

They haven’t yet made a public statement, although they did respond to a private email from one of our blog readers by saying that the Cardross Estate resigned from their organisation in 2012.

4. We asked Environment Minister Dr Aileen Mcleod when the Scottish Government will publish the recently completed Wildlife Crime Penalties Review, in light of the pathetic sentence given to O’Reilly for his barbaric crimes. One of her civil servants has issued an acknowledgement email, saying someone will respond soon.

On a related note, there’s an article here with further details about why the Sheriff didn’t give O’Reilly a more fitting punishment. It includes a suggestion from O’Reilly’s defence agent that the gamekeeper was ‘under pressure from above’. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Crown Office decides to go for a vicarious liability prosecution.




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