Nature being let down by the system

I’m not entirely sure which shocks me the most – the deed itself or the inability of the conservation, political and legal systems to deal with it.

The video released today by the RSPB is nearly four years old. It seems to show a Hen Harrier being flushed off the nest and shot.  The RSPB says the nest was on the Cabrach estate in Moray.

Now we know that this sort of thing happens, because the science tells us it does, but it is still shocking to see it with one’s own eyes. The footage reminds me of similar footage of a similar event which led to the prosecution of a gamekeeper not a million miles from this site (see Inglorious Chapter 1 for more details).

So, we certainly know that this is not a very unusual event, just one that is rarely observed or filmed.  All credit to RSPB for getting this footage and making it public.

We know why we don’t see such films very often, it’s not because the events are so rare (there may be a similar one happening right now) but because they happen in remote areas and they are illegal.

And so I think it is more shocking to me that the legal systems (north and south of  the border) cannot cope with this type of crime, even with this sort of evidence.

There is just a whiff of corruption in the air.  So many cases take so long and get nowhere. It looks rather fishy doesn’t it?

Wildlife crime against birds of prey on grouse moors won’t end until intensive grouse shooting ends, and it won’t end until we ban it.



21 Replies to “Nature being let down by the system”

  1. For your information I earlier tweeted Tim Bonner as follows – “A clear case of wildlife crime dropped; time to review the law? Comments?” He replied “Act is shocking, unacceptable, unjustifiable & just plain wrong. Haven’t facts or knowledge to comment on legal process stuff”

  2. More than a whiff Mark. A positive stench. I too was shocked by this footage even though I too am aware that it goes on. It is both pitiful and pathetic. We must get this obnoxious activity banned once and for all.

  3. Is there a statement by the Crown Office (COPFS) as to why it’s dropped this case? A suspect has been identified; his crime has been partially filmed; the evidence appears unequivocal; there have been, at the tax payer’s expense, 9 court hearings into this case since 2013 and yet COPFS caves in at the eleventh hour – what’s going on? We need a full explanation. The reasons for justice not being seen to be done must be seen.

  4. “Whiff of corruption”?!

    I’d call it a dense, choking, noxious stench of corruption. It seems that criminal law is applied very selectively in this country. Criminal proceedings can be made to “go away” and nearly always are in the case of crimes against wildlife.

    When our judicial system starts to go rotten it’s time for a fundamental re-think of it.

  5. This is appalling. After the petition was talked over last year by vested interests, the full face of their hypocrisy is demonstrated by this. After the election pressurize your MP, this must be stopped.

  6. I suspect the evidence gathered by the RSPB was inadmissable and if you discount the video there ain’t a lot to go on so the case fails. I’m sure this has happened before and the RSPB need to make sure their evidence satisfies the rules, in the same way as any investigator has to. In this case the video could have been used to prompt a police forensic investigation, perhaps in the first instance looking for HH blood/DNA at the scene, rather than relying wholly on the video.

  7. We all know what is happening and we all know there is a lack of will-power from those in authority to act. We can predict that with Brexit on the horizon and a likely Conservative Government that things are going to get harder for our wildlife and our environment. We have to get more imaginative in our responses.The law has had enough time to hold these people to account and it is not going to. Until there is a price to pay for their illegal activity, they will not stop.

  8. I’d suggest blog readers might be interested in the considerable back story behind multi-millionaire estate owner Christopher Moran.

    1. Thanks for this. It certainly makes interesting a revealing reading. The oddest thing is that a man of his prominence and connections has no Wikipedia entry. An oversight or an example of pressure being exerted?

  9. I’d like to think this will spur the RSPB to take a harder and more realistic line on what’s needed to stop such outrages – including mobilising its members and supporters.

        1. I gave up doing that a long time ago. On a spectrum from passionate, campaigning movement to soulless, corporate bureaucracy, the RSPB appears to be moving in only one direction. Incidents like this present an opportunity to demonstrate otherwise. We’ll see.

    1. A good start would be not to release this damning footage on a day when the media was predictably obsessed with the local election results ….

  10. Its often said that the law is an ass, well that particular ads stinks of corruption, at the point that video of a crime being committed becomes inadmissible as evidence in prosecution of that crime then, it is demonstrable that there is a policy of not prosecuting that type of crime in action, it can have no other explanation

  11. The long delay in dropping the case suggests that the final decision was a marginal and controversial one. That being the case shouldn’t it have been tested in open court rather than decided by person or persons unknown in secret? I’m also struggling to understand why video from CCTV cameras dotting the streets of our towns & cities and within the shops that line them which have been specifically set up to deter crime and catch criminals can be regularly used in court cases but this footage can be deemed ‘inadmissible’ even though those who set up the camera can point to perfectly legitimate conservation reasons why the cameras were in situ. In a further tweet to me, Tim Bonner suggested that this was a human rights issue but, if so, it would appear that those who persecute protected species in rural areas have more human rights than law abiding citizens in the towns. The law needs to be clarified and at the very least judges allowed discretion to allow video evidence in circumstances where eyewitness accounts highly unlikely and where the criminals trade on this fact to commit crime.

    1. All the CCTV in our city and town centres are in areas where signs have been put up to advise of recording – likewise on private property like business premises and the like.

      I guess the nearest parallel would be whether a criminal act recorded say in the back garden of a house where there is no signs advising of cctv would be admissable.

      1. Just back from walking from my house to my newsagents and past several cameras (that I could see) en route without sight of a single sign warning me that I might be on CCTV. No sign in my newsagent’s either. Certainly, from what I’ve seen in my local paper, footage from private residences (without any warning signs) seems to be used in criminal cases without problems. As Chris Packham pointed out elsewhere, it’s difficult to imagine that, had the camera footage been the basis of a prosecution for a crime such as terrorism or murder, it wouldn’t have been used. Wildlife crime of this sort is in a unique position in that it is carried on far from prying eyes and a modification of the law to allow remote monitoring to catch criminals in such circumstances is overdue.

  12. “So, we certainly know that this is not a very unusual event, just one that is rarely observed or filmed.”

    The point Mark makes cannot be overstated in it’s importance. We are not talking about the “odd rogue keeper” slyly killing Hen Harriers when they come across them. This would not ensure the almost complete absence of successfully breeding Hen Harriers on English grouse moors. This illegal persecution of Hen Harriers must be very focused, very organised, and orchestrated. For keepers to focus on this and devote this much time to it, means it must not merely be with the full knowledge of their employers, but that they are complicity in it. There’s a lot to be known about this organized wildlife crime, and yet we know absolutely nothing. We know more about the inner workings of the mafia, than we do about this highly orchestrated wildlife crime.

    Yet when keepers are caught the authorities appear to show zero interest in finding out what is happening. The authorities are only too willing to go along with the rogue keeper lie. There is more than a whiff of corruption. Corruption is not just about bribes. It is about people in positions of power and influence abusing their power and influence for their own interests.

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