The Hawk and Owl Trust are digging themselves in to a deeper hole.
Most people looking at the x-ray of hen harrier Rowan’s leg injuries, which was published yesterday, would be able to interpret the image fairly easily. A fractured leg with a number of radio-dense foreign bodies associated with the injury site; radio-dense foreign bodies with a radio density consistent with metal. This is not a difficult image to interpret and it’s pretty clear that Rowan’s injuries weren’t caused when he was shaving his legs and slipped (thanks Lewis Thomson @LT_FoD for the most amusing suggestion seen on Twitter yesterday!).
The Hawk and Owl Trust (and Natural England and Cumbria Police) had the benefit of additional evidence in the form of photographs (presumably a gunshot entry wound was visible on the leg directly adjacent to the fracture site) and a written report from the pathology expert who had conducted the post mortem. The opinion of the pathologist was that Rowan had been shot and Cumbria Police accepted his expert opinion.
So we come back to the questions we raised earlier:
(a) Why did the joint press release issued by Hawk & Owl Trust / Natural England on 28 October (just prior to the Westminster grouse shooting debate) exclude all the post mortem evidence that was available to them on 27 October?
Their press release included the line: “We are unable to make further comments or enter into discussion at this time as this may be prejudicial to ongoing investigations“. Our friend Mark Avery suggested to us an alternative line: “We are unable to make further comments or enter into discussion at this time as this may be prejudicial to the Westminster debate on driven grouse shooting“.
(b) Cumbria Police’s draft press release on 3 November clearly stated that the post mortem had concluded Rowan had been shot. Why then, on 7 November and after consultation with Natural England (and possibly Hawk & Owl Trust) was this police press release altered from Rowan ‘was shot’ to Rowan ‘was likely to have been shot’?
Yesterday evening, the Hawk and Owl Trust issued a statement in an attempt to justify their lack of transparency:
The most interesting sentence is the penultimate one:
“……the initial post mortem results were not wholly conclusive and further metallurgical tests were required“.
Really? Who said the initial post mortem results weren’t wholly conclusive? (Clue: it wasn’t the pathologist).
And who said further metallurgical tests were required? (Clue: it wasn’t the pathologist).
Have those further metallurgical tests been done? If so, where are the results? If they haven’t been done, four months on, then why not if they were supposedly “required”?
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