Posts Tagged ‘mevinphos

19
Oct
15

Stody Estate subsidy penalties: another update

IMG_4752 (2) - CopyA year ago, gamekeeper Allen Lambert was convicted of a series of wildlife crime offences on the Stody Estate in Norfolk, including the mass poisoning of birds of prey (10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk) which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013 (see here and here).

We found out that the Stody Estate had received millions of pounds worth of agricultural subsidies (i.e. money given to them from our taxes to help them farm on the condition they look after the wildlife and wildlife habitats under their management) and we wanted to find out whether the Estate would now face a financial penalty in the form of a reduction in their subsidies for what was a very serious breach of the cross-compliance regulations.

One year later and we’re still trying to find out.

In October 2014, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) told us they “would consider action against Stody Estate“, although one of our blog readers was told, “there is no investigation ongoing” (see here).

In December 2014, one of our blog readers contacted the RPA again to ask for an update. The RPA responded in January 2015 by saying “We are unable to provide you with any meaningful response as we do not hold any information that answers your questions” (see here).

In July 2015, we again wrote to the RPA to ask whether they had imposed a penalty on Stody Estate. We were told that as the convicted gamekeeper wasn’t the actual subsidy recipient, the RPA was trying to determine whether there was “a link” between the convicted gamekeeper and the subsidy recipient (i.e. his employer) and if so, whether the recipient (Stody Estate) could be considered liable for the actions of the gamekeeper (see here). Amazing.

As the one-year anniversary of the gamekeeper’s conviction approached, in September 2015 we wrote to the RPA again to see whether they’d now worked out “a link” between the convicted employee and his employer. Last week they responded with this:

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has notified the Stody Estate in Norfolk that a cross compliance breach occurred, as [sic] result of the actions of their gamekeeper. This is because the estate is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. Under European cross compliance rules, the RPA is obliged to follow-up reports of cross compliance breaches brought to its attention. The rates of applicable reductions are explained in the scheme rules“.

So, the inefficient RPA has taken a year to decide that there was a cross compliance breach, but we still don’t know whether a financial penalty has been imposed, and if it has, what its value is.

According to the RPA’s ‘scheme rules’, cross compliance breaches can be categorised  as either ‘negligible’ or ‘intentional’, and the severity of the penalty is dependent on this.

For negligible non-compliance (falls below the standard of care expected of a competent claimant) subsidy payment is normally reduced by 3% but could range from 1-5% depending on the extent, severity, re-occurrence and permanence of the non-compliance.

For intentional non-compliance, payments will normally be reduced by 20%, but may be reduced to 15% or increased to 100% depending on the extent, severity, re-occurrence and permanence of the non-compliance.

What do you think? Is laying out banned poisons that kill 11 raptors a negligible or intentional non-compliance?

Given that we don’t know how the RPA will determine if the breaches were negligible or intentional, and given that we don’t know how much of our money was awarded to the Stody Estate in 2013 (the year the breaches occurred), although judging by the amounts they received between 2004-2012 it was probably a considerable sum (see here), it’s difficult for us to establish even a rough guesstimate of what the penalty might be, and that’s assuming that the RPA has decided a penalty is warranted.

So, we’ve written, again, to the RPA to ask whether a penalty has been imposed (and if not, why not) and if it has been imposed, how much is it?

20
Jul
15

Stody Estate subsidy penalties: an update

IMG_4752 (2) - CopyOn 1st October 2014, gamekeeper Allen Lambert from the Stody Estate in Norfolk was found guilty of poisoning 10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk, which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013. He was also convicted of storing banned pesticides & other items capable of preparing poisoned baits (a ‘poisoner’s kit’), and a firearms offence (see here and here).

On 6th November 2014, Lambert was sentenced. Even though the magistrate acknowledged that Lambert’s crimes passed the custody threshold, he only received a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and nine poisoned buzzards (suspended for one year), and was ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

On 5th October 2014, we blogged about the millions of pounds worth of subsidies that had been awarded to Stody Estate in recent years (see here) and we encouraged blog readers to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to ask whether Stody Estate would receive a financial penalty in the form of subsidy withdrawal for being in breach of the terms & conditions of their subsidy-fest.

On 10th October 2014, the RPA responded by saying they would consider what action could be taken against Stody Estate (see here).

Then it all went quiet.

In December 2014, one of our blog readers submitted an FoI to the RPA to ask what was happening. In January 2015, the RPA responded by saying they ‘weren’t able to provide a meaningful response’ but said they would take action if it was found to be appropriate to do so (see here).

Six months on, we thought it was time for an update so an FoI was sent to the RPA to ask whether they had implemented a subsidy penalty. This is their response:

Dear XXXXX XXXXX

Thank you for your email dated 5 July 2015 regarding Stody Estate.

Cross Compliance rules only apply to recipients of Single Payment Scheme or certain Rural Development scheme payment in the year in which a cross compliance breach is found.

The person prosecuted for the offences mentioned in your e-mail is not a recipient of either of these types of payment.  Therefore before RPA can take further action, it will be necessary to determine whether there [sic] a link between this person and a subsidy recipient and, if there is, whether that recipient can be considered liable for the actions of the person who committed the breaches.

Identifying whether the person prosecuted is linked to a subsidy recipient will form a key part of our investigations.

Should you have any further queries please contact us again quoting reference number XXXXX

Regards

Helen Hunter

Customer Service Centre, Operations

END

This is all very interesting. The mass illegal poisoning of birds of prey took place on Stody Estate and a Stody Estate employee, gamekeeper Allen Lambert, was convicted of these crimes and several others. But the Rural Payments Agency is still trying to determine whether there is a link between Lambert and the Stody Estate. Eh?

It’s not very convincing is it?

Perhaps the RPA should have a read of the judge’s comments about the relationship between Lambert and his (now former) employer – see here.

23
Feb
15

Scottish Government launches poisons disposal scheme

PoisonThe Scottish Government has today launched it’s promised ‘pesticides disposal scheme’ – a free service allowing those who are still in possession of these banned substances an opportunity to get rid of them without fear of consequence.

This scheme was initiated by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse whilst he was still in office.

We have mixed views about the scheme.

On the one hand, it’s a proactive approach to rid Scotland of highly toxic substances that are still being used, illegally, with devastating effect on some of our raptor species, notably golden eagles, red kites, peregrines and buzzards. Only yesterday we blogged about the latest victim  -a poisoned peregrine found on a grouse moor (see here).

On the other hand, many of these poisons have been banned for years, and even being in possession of them has been an offence since 2005 (Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005), so why, ten years later, are the criminals who are still in possession of these poisons being given yet another opportunity to escape justice?

The bigger concern of these two views undoubtedly has to be that these poisons need to be removed, and that concern outweighs the lesser concern that the criminals won’t be punished, so from that perspective we welcome the new scheme.

However, what we want (expect) to see as a result of the scheme is that anybody caught with these poisons after the scheme has ended MUST be given a more serious sentence for their crime. We fully expect that even after this scheme has ended, there will still be substantial amounts of these poisons being held illegally. Why? Because the criminals who hold and use these poisons have been doing so for a long, long time, despite the legislation and despite previous amnesties, because they know there’s a good chance that they’ll get away with it. And for those who do get caught, the penalty is usually so ineffectual that the risk was worth taking anyway. Those people, when caught, must feel the full force of the law and not some pathetic fine or community service order – nothing less than a mandatory custodial sentence will do.

It’s not clear for how long the free disposal scheme will run, other than a quote from the current Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, that the scheme will be “short-lived”.

Those wishing to dispose of their banned poisons via this scheme can do so without fear of prosecution, and without their personal details being given to the authorities. The Government will be collecting data about the uptake of the scheme, but these data will be limited to the type and number of poisons handed in, the cost of the scheme, and only the first three letters of the postcode from where the poisons have been collected.

As this is a free and confidential service, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for anyone to still be in possession of these poisons by the time the scheme ends. Mind you, it’s been that way for the past decade and yet….

Scottish Government press release here

Details about how to use the free disposal service here

Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme here

A list of the poisons that will be accepted by the scheme and a description of what they look like and some common generic names here

25
Jan
15

Subsidy penalty for Stody Estate?

stody buzzardsOn 1st October 2014, gamekeeper Allen Lambert from the Stody Estate in Norfolk was found guilty of poisoning 10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk, which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013. He was also convicted of storing banned pesticides & other items capable of preparing poisoned baits (a ‘poisoner’s kit’), and a firearms offence (see here and here).

On 6th November 2014, Lambert was sentenced. Even though the magistrate acknowledged that Lambert’s crimes passed the custody threshold, he only received a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and nine poisoned buzzards (suspended for one year), and was ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

On 5th October 2014, we blogged about the millions of pounds worth of subsidies that had been awarded to Stody Estate in recent years (see here) and we encouraged blog readers to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to ask whether Stody Estate would receive a financial penalty in the form of subsidy withdrawal for being in breach of the terms & conditions of their subsidy-fest.

On 10th October 2014, the RPA responded by saying they would consider what action could be taken against Stody Estate (see here).

Then it all went quiet.

One of our blog readers decided to submit an FoI to the RPA in December 2014, to see what was going on. Here is his letter:

12 DECEMBER 2014

To whom it may concern

I am making this request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information I request relates to the conviction in October 2014 of Mr Allen Lambert, a gamekeeper employed by the Stody Estate, Melton Constable, Norfolk, NR24 2ER for illegally poisoning ten buzzards and a sparrowhawk.

I would be grateful if you could provide me with all the information you hold relating to the following questions:

  1. Whether the RPA consider the illegal poisoning carried out by an employee of the Stody Estate as being in breach of Cross Compliance Statutory Management Requirement 1 – Wild Birds.
  2. Did the RPA investigate any breach of cross compliance at the Stody Estate relating to the illegal poisoning offence and what was the outcome of the investigation.
  3. Whether the RPA has imposed a fine on the Stody Estate’s Single Farm Payment, Environmental Stewardship Payment or any other public subsidy the estate receives and if so, how much.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

XXXXX XXXXX

On 14th January 2015, the RPA responded with this:

14 JANUARY 2015

Dear XXXXX XXXXX

Re: Freedom of Information – Information Request

Thank you for your request for information dated 12 December 2014 which has been dealt with under Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA).

You have asked:

‘1. Whether the RPA consider the illegal poisoning carried out by an employee of the Stody Estate as being in breach of Cross Compliance Statutory Management Requirement 1 – Wild Birds.’

‘2. Did the RPA investigate any breach of cross compliance at the Stody Estate relating to the illegal poisoning offence and what was the outcome of the investigation.’

‘3. Whether the RPA has imposed a fine on the Stody Estate’s Single Farm Payment, Environmental Stewardship Payment or any other public subsidy the estate receives and if so, how much.’

Having considered your request we regret that we are unable to provide you with any meaningful response as we do not hold any information that answers your questions. However, RPA would like to make clear that it is required to assess cross compliance reductions to CAP subsidy claims based on intent, extent, severity, permanence and repetition of the non-compliance. We can assure you that RPA will take action, including cross compliance reductions to CAP subsidy payments applicable, if this is found to be appropriate.

In order to qualify for most CAP subsidy payments, claimants are required to keep their land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition and comply with a set of Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs). This is known as cross compliance. One of the SMRs covers wild birds (SMR 1) and this includes a rule about killing, injuring or taking wild birds.

Further information is published on the GOV.UK website (Page 43 – deals with wild birds).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/320833/The_Guide_to_Cross_Compliance_in_England_2014_complete_edition.pdf

If you are not happy with the way we have handled your request, you can ask for an internal review. These requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: Access to Information, Rural Payments Agency, North Gate House, 21-23 Valpy Street, Reading, RG1 1AF.

Yours sincerely

Rural Payments Agency

Not very helpful, is it?

Thanks to the blog reader who followed up with the FoI and shared the response with us. We understand the RPA can expect further FoIs until a satisfactory response is received. Watch this space….

Meanwhile, you might be interested to compare Lambert’s pathetic sentence with that of an anti-badger cull protester. Lambert was given a 10 week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £930 costs for the mass poisoning of protected birds, the illegal storage of banned poisons and a firearms offence. The badger cull protester, who breached the terms of an injunction designed to stop him disrupting badger culls (he filmed someone involved with the cull and stood outside the NFU office wearing a t-shirt that said: ‘FCK NFU’), was given a six month suspended sentence and ordered to pay costs that could amount to £55,000 (see here). The first installment of £25,000 is due on 1st May. A crowd-funding page has been set up for those who want to help – see here.

06
Nov
14

Stody Estate mass poisoner gets…..10 week suspended sentence

allen-lambert-stody-estateGamekeeper Allen Lambert, convicted of mass raptor poisoning at Stody Estate, Norfolk, has been given a 10 week suspended sentence for poisoning 11 raptors (suspended for one year), a six week suspended sentence for possession of firearms and dead buzzards (suspended for one year) and has been ordered to pay £930 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

This sentence will infuriate many. Lambert’s crimes contributed to one of the worst incidents of mass raptor poisoning in the UK. Although it’s not the worst incident, it’s right up there near the top of the list and is certainly the worst mass poisoning of raptors uncovered in England.

District Judge Peter Veits said Lambert’s crimes ‘had crossed the custody threshold’ but that his sentence would be suspended. Why? Sentencing is supposed to serve two purposes. It’s supposed to be a deterrent, not only to the convicted criminal, but also to others who may be contemplating committing the same crime. It’s also supposed to provide a punishment to the perpetrator for having acted criminally.

Does a suspended jail sentence meet any of these aims? No, it certainly does not.

What a wasted opportunity for the judiciary to send out a clear message to those who continue to commit abhorrent wildlife crimes. It’s so rare to actually get a conviction for poisoning; usually it’s the much lesser charge of ‘possession’ of banned poisons [in Scotland] or ‘storage’ of illegal poisons [in England] but here’s a gamekeeper who has been found guilty of actually poisoning 11 protected raptors. Sure, the judge’s sentencing options are constrained within statutory boundaries but the sentence in this case is nowhere near as strong as it could have been. Some of Lambert’s crimes are offences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. Under this legislation, the maximum sentence, calculated for EACH offence is a £5,000 fine and a six month custodial sentence. That’s just for poisoning 11 birds – in Lambert’s case there are numerous other offences to consider, including firearms offences which usually carry a custodial sentence.

A suspended custodial sentence and a less than £1000 ‘fine’ (prosecution costs) for what Lambert did is absurdly lenient. According to the RSPB, since 2001, four gamekeepers have received suspended custodial sentences for persecution offences. During the same period, 12 egg collectors have actually been jailed. The inconsistency in wildlife crime sentencing is remarkable.

In Scotland there is currently a wildlife crime penalty review underway, at the behest of Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. There is an opportunity for you to participate, by filling in a questionnaire which seeks views on whether penalties for wildlife crime offences in Scotland are sufficient deterrent. The closing date is 21 November. Full details here.

So, Lambert’s pretty much got off scot free, but what of his (now former) employers, the Stody Estate? According to the BBC, ‘there is no evidence the estate owner, Charles MacNicol, knew about the poisonings. He wouldn’t tell BBC News whether he knew, or whether he condemned the killings’. Lambert was not sacked by Stody Estate, but instead was allowed to take early retirement, according to ITV news.

What we do know is the Stody Estate has received millions in agricultural subsidies over the years (see here), and as a result of blog readers’ efforts, the Rural Payments Agency is understood to be investigating to see whether financial penalties can be applied for cross-compliance offences (see here).

UPDATE 8/11/14: Here are the judge’s comments on Lambert’s sentencing:  DJ Peter Veits sentencing 6 Nov 2014

Media coverage of Lambert’s sentencing

RSPB press release here

BBC news here

BBC news video here

RSPB Investigations blog here

Daily Mail here

ITV news here

Norfolk Eastern Daily Press here

Telegraph here

Guardian here

Independent here

Norfolk Constabulary press statement here

Lambert 9 bz

06
Nov
14

Sentencing due for Stody Estate mass poisoner

allen-lambert-stody-estateAllen Lambert, the mass poisoning gamekeeper from Stody Estate, Norfolk, will be sentenced today following his convictions last month.

What sort of sentence does a convicted mass poisoner deserve? He was found guilty of poisoning 10 buzzards and 1 sparrowhawk. He was found guilty of the illegal storage and use of some of the most dangerous pesticides in the world. He was found guilty of having equipment capable of being used to prepare poisoned baits. He was found guilty of having nine dead buzzards in his possession.

Let’s hope the magistrate views this case with the seriousness it deserves.

Previous blogs on this case here, here, here.

10
Oct
14

Rural Payments Agency ‘to consider action’ against Stody Estate

Five days ago we blogged about the millions of pounds of farming subsidies that have been given to Stody Estate over the last few years (see here). For new readers, Stody Estate was in the news last week because their (now former) gamekeeper, Allen Lambert, was found guilty of poisoning 11 raptors (10 buzzards and 1 sparrowhawk) on the estate, as well as other related poison offences (see here and here).

While we wait to find out Lambert’s sentence (due 6th November), we encouraged blog readers to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to ask whether any action would be taken against Stody Estate as the conviction implied they were in breach of the terms and conditions of their subsidy-fest.

Well done to all those who took the time to contact the RPA – we know from our site stats that at least 40 of you did.

To the RPA’s credit, they have responded very quickly. We’ve seen a number of the responses – some of which have already been shared as comments on this blog, and others which were shared with us privately via email.

From the RPA responses that we’ve seen, it looks as though the RPA is going to take a closer look at Stody Estate. The most common response has been as follows:

I can confirm that RPA will consider what action can be taken under the cross compliance rules in respect of the offences for which the gamekeeper was convicted“.

However, there was one RPA response that didn’t sound quite as promising:

RPA can confirm there is no investigation ongoing“.

Hmm.

As some commentators have already suggested, it’s worth keeping hold of the reference number given at the end of each of the RPA responses so that we can follow up in a few months time to see what action, if any, the RPA has taken.

Lambert 9 bz




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 3,207,165 hits

Archives

Our recent blog visitors