RSPB, Countryside Alliance and the Charity Commission

You might have wondered what happened with the complaint about the RSPB from Sir Ian Botham and others to the Charity Commission.  Or maybe you thought it was so daft that you weren’t wondering at all.

Well, I was wondering why we hadn’t heard anything about it and now I know why. Although Beefy’s complaint (a good name for a mental condition where the ill person thinks they know what they are talking about when it is perfectly clear that they do not) was rejected by the Charity Commission ages ago, back in mid-November, there has been another complaint about the RSPB to the Charity Commission.

But Beefy’s complaint was pretty roundly rejected.  I might ask for the umpire’s decision to be reviewed by Hawkeye as there is a misplaced apostrophe in the Charity Commission response, but I don’t think that would get us very far. If you can see grounds for hating the RSPB in regard to what the Charity Commission says then you are extremely uncharitable yourself.

So, that was all cleared up a couple of months ago, and then another complaint arrived from, surprise, surprise, the Countryside Alliance.  What is the CA doing making complaints about charities? Has it got any form on this subject? Ah yes, the RSPCA. I wonder whether they think the RSPCA and the RSPB are one and the same?

The CA, under Adrian Blackmore’s name, makes a series of allegations that are either not within the remit of the Charity Commission, or not substantiated, or both. Have a look for yourself here.

You will notice that the Charity Commission don’t have any problem with the RSPB saying ‘over the years, a steady stream of grouse moor gamekeepers have been prosecuted for raptor persecution crimes‘ and indeed the Countryside Alliance is helpful enough to elucidate that further by confirming in their complaint that ‘Over that 13 year period, 20 gamekeepers employed on grouse moors (an average of 1.5 per year) are shown as having been prosecuted‘. It’s good that we are all clear about that in case anyone thought that nurses or estate agents were heading into the hills to kill birds of prey.

The Charity Commission response finishes:

‘Your central complaint is that the RSPB has misused data and made unfounded allegations in their Birdcrime Report. Having examined the issues raised and met with the trustees, we have concluded that we have not found the RSPB has breached our guidelines on Campaigning and Political Activity by Charities. The Charity Commission therefore does not uphold your complaint.’.
It is clear that the Countryside Alliance has an advanced form of ‘Beefy’s complaint’.

This is what the RSPB says.

Why is the CA wasting its members’ (note, esp the Charity Commission, the placement of the apostrophe) money on making such a frivolous, ill-considered, and woefully unsuccessful complaint? If I were a CA member then I’d be asking for some of my money back.

What is the Countryside Alliance for? It seems to be the opposite of ‘a rebel without a cause’, it’s ‘the establishment with a lost cause’.

But I am very grateful to the Countryside Alliance because I didn’t have time to read a book to review for today, as I have been busy writing for a deadline, and so it’s lovely that the failure of the CA complaint came at such an opportune time.


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17 Replies to “RSPB, Countryside Alliance and the Charity Commission”

  1. I think we need to have some of these RSPB guys into the England cricket team as that is now two opening batsmen they have bowled middle stump, each for a golden duck.

  2. You missed the flight to the future in the CC letter on the RSPB website.

    The table lists the convictions of all the grouse moor gamekeepers known to the RSPB with their sentences between 2001 and 2103.

  3. What's a DAGBY?
    I've met Adrian Blackmore through a harrier dialogue, a perfectly nice chap except he unknowingly suffers greatly from Beefy's Complaint or is that a straight faced denial person (liar) for what's unacceptable in the grouse industry.

  4. Just added to my to do list for this week: "increase monthly subs to RSPB".

    They are not a perfect organisation (if such a thing exists) - I do wish they would do certain things differently, but on the whole they are excellent. Petty attacks by the likes of the CA only serve to make me to more determined to stand foursquare behind them as it tells me they must be doing something right.

    I wonder if the RSPB's coffers have actually been boosted by these recent events?

    As for Botham - this whole YFATB debacle just reinforces my view that Ian Chappell was right. Great cricketer - small man.

      1. No he didn't - I did!

        Google 'Botham Chappell habitual liar' and you'll see that IC holds a far less complementary opinion of him.

  5. Don't suppose the Daily Mail or Mail on Sunday will have the good race to report the rejection of these complaints. Or Shooting Times?

    1. Interesting article in the MoS. Once again in the coffee shop (I must stop, it is costing me a fortune) I read the MoS to see if they would put out such a report. No, but there is a full page article on how a young shooting lady is being nastily harassed by anti hunt. Included in that is a 2 paragraph reference to the RSPB, RSPCA and Ian Botham's and CA comments as though they still stood. You could, if you read it quickly, come away with a thought that somehow the 2 charities were involved in the harassment.

      I did feel sorry for this lady as no-one should be harassed in this manner but right at the end I started to distrust the article when it referred to her shooting grouse and whilst doing so 2 cars drove up in front of her and she was surrounded by anti hunt activists who got out of the cars. That didn't ring true as either she was shooting grouse from the road or the obvious H and S requirement not to be shooting while members of the public could be in the firing line was clearly not being adhered to.

      1. Just a word of caution. Having been on the receiving end of death threats from animal rights terrorists (rabbit cull) and having seen some of the Sab's shenanigans trying to get the hunt onto our nature reserves just to create an incident, there is a very nasty element to the antis too. Best stick to the conservation arguments here and steer well clear of the animal rights end.

        I'm no fan of driven grouse shooting but I find it very plausible that there might have been unpleasant harrassment of this woman. Certainly both the hunt supporters and the sabs trespassed onto our land in their vehicles. She might not have been on a public road at all.

        Best reserve judgement unless you know all the circumstances.

        1. I think Bob's main point was more about the MoS conflating a story about harassment of a woman by anti-hunt activists with criticism of the RSPB and RSPCA, thereby giving the impression that they were party to the harassment. The RSPB has a legitimate conservation concern with grouse shooting and the MoS is trying to discredit it by implying it is involved in the sort of dirty tactics which you rightly deplore.

          1. Jonathan - indeed so, I agree entirely. Notable that Monro tends to do the same thing, lumping animal rights activists in with nature coservation interests.

            Sadly it's not just the DM that does this. Every time the media (they all do it - even the BBC on occasion tho they're better now) introduces a conservation piece with the words "Animal lovers" I want to scream.

  6. Unless things have changed since I was on RSPB Council, the RSPB charter actually has a specific clause saying that RSPB will not get involved in field sports. Whoever put it there was very longsighted as it was the perfect get out to getting embroiled in the moral issues around field sports which caused the National Trust such grief over stag hunting. So it has been pretty careless of shooting to park its tanks on the lawn at Sandy by exterminating Hen Harriers from England - which is first and foremost a bird protection issue, secondly about shooting which here is not a moral issue, simply an environmental impact like pesticides, development or climate change. The thing that surprises me is that so many keepers have been prosecuted when the odds are stacked so heavily against the law. The implication around the latest case that it is a breech of privacy to try and observe someone breaking the law really does have some interesting ramifications, doesn't it ?

  7. The shooting industry really doesn’t like inconvenient science, does it? Since the CA raised the issue, here’s a link to the abstract for the peer-reviewed paper that found that peregrines on grouse moors were only half as productive as they were in other habitats. The study also found that confirmed and probable incidents of peregrine persecution between 1990 and 2006 across northern England, occurred far more frequently on grouse moors than on other habitats. The higher levels of breeding failure meant that peregrine populations on grouse moors were not self-sustaining, and regional extinction was only prevented by more productive birds nesting in sites away from grouse moors:

    And here’s a link to the superb Birdcrime 2013 report they complained unsuccessfully about:


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