Preston magistrates court

Yesterday I headed up the M6 to attend a trial in Preston magistrates courts.  Appropriately enough, at Keele Services, a Peregrine flew over as I was returning to the car.

The defendant, James Hartley, 34, denied a number of offences against Peregrine Falcons on the Bleasdale Estate, Bowland, Lancashire in April 2016.  These included the alleged shooting of a female Peregrine and the trapping of a male at the nest site.

We heard from the defendant’s lawyer, Mr Tim Ryan of Warners, that the admissibility of video evidence pertaining to this case would be challenged.

Mr Hartley will face trial at the same court on 12 February 2018.

There were camera crews from the BBC, Sky and Channel 4 outside the court and a number of interested members of the public, including part of the Raptor Persecution UK team and Terry Pickford in the public seating.

Here is the BBC report.


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32 Replies to “Preston magistrates court”

  1. So one web site gets a mention but the other dose not!!! Just so readers can see the name of the one not mentioned it is called Raptor Politics - Speaking out for raptor conservation everywhere not just Scotland and the UK.

    Oh and was that camera set up to catch the North West Raptor Group doing there day to day job without a license as Natural England would not give them a license due to pressure from certain organisations paid to do the job while they did it voluntarily?

    1. As RSPB have stated in severalplaces such cameras are placed to follow the fortunes of various species nests, usually in at risk situations. In this case thay have accumulated enough evidence for a gamekeeper to be charged and in court to answer those charges. This is quite clearly nothing to do with NWRPG, however as you admit John they do not have licences for Bowland. The WCA makes it quite clear disturbing, any schedule one bird at or near its nest or any dependent young is an offence there are no exceptions. A licence is a derogation from that for certain legitimate purposes. however good the motives of NWRPG visiting without a licence is an offence and should be treated as such. Monitoring can be done without the need for nest visits and was clearly the case in this instance the nest was already monitored. Raptor workers need to keep to the moral high ground and stay within both the letter and spirit of the law, that NWRPG may not only reflects badly on them and potentially gives the dark side points to argue.

  2. I'm not sure many people outside of the NWRG bother with Raptor Politics anymore. It's more about the protection of the NWRG than it is about the protection of raptors. And it's impossible to post a comment that is in any way unfavourable to that small group. If you doubt that have a look through the comments.

    1. The Raptor Politics site was set up to give the members of the NWRPG a voice - not as a vehicle for its detractors to comment.

      It's good to know it's getting under your skin.

    2. Well Ian you would say that wouldn't you, I would have expected nothing less. If the NWRG had not highlight the terrible persecution of raptors taking place within the Forest of Bowland via Raptor Politics or on social media beginning in the early 1980's, exemplified by the latest prosecution of a Bowland gamekeeper accused of killing two peregrines, very few people would ever have heard of Bowland or the wide scale killing of raptors there. Where were Natural England when all the persecution was taking place, taking a back seat when hundreds of raptors continued to disappear with impunity, perhaps until now? Wasnt it Natural England who provided licenses allowing Bowland estates to install moorland tracks, often sighted directly through Hen Harriers territories? Lets not forget the approved installation of estate luncheon buildings positioned without any thought next to where previously Peregrine nests had been recorded by our members.

      1. Well said Terry Pickford! I found the group via Facebook and have followed you all ever since. I like that you tell the truth and don't sugar coat anything we neee more like you and your group. Keep up the good work

    3. Over 8 thousand twitter followers might just disagree with you, also the calibre if speaker that attended this year's Hen Harrier day shows that you could be wrong.

    4. This is so wrong! That group do so much to help raptors just the other day the group were on top of a church re building a peregrine box, they raised money to get these peregrine falcons a camera as one was found shot so now they are protected. They are up the moors every single day to highlight what is going on in the Bowland, I could go on but you can see the work they do on Facebook. To criticise the group is just ridiculous stop all this bickering now!!! We all want the same objective which is to save raptors!

  3. Stop the infighting and stand together! This is too serious to be scoring points.

    More interestingly is how a 34 year old gamekeeper in Lancashire can afford to engage a law firm based in the south-east with a high profile defence lawyer. Somehow I find it hard to believe he is footing the bill.

    1. It's an odd coincidence that keeps happening. Maybe it should be those paying for this high-powered legal representation appearing in court.

  4. Thanks to Mark for highlighting this case because I no longer live in the area so wouldn't have been aware of it otherwise.

    I think it's a great pity that people on what is essentially the same side appear to be at odds with each other. The only people this aids are those illegally persecuting raptors. I'm not taking any sides in this because I don't personally know any of those involved, have never been involved with any of the organizations involved. Yes I've been told various things over the years, but I've always kept an open mind about what was what. Here's hoping that all sides can be reconciled. It's okay to disagree, that's how progress is made.

    1. I agree completely. That's why a public-facing website that is openly hostile to just about everyone involved in raptor conservation outside of the NWRG is not, in my view, helpful to the cause. The site regularly criticises NE, RSPB, BTO, the local Police, United Utilities, other raptor workers etc etc and allows next to no right of reply (despite having a comments facility). The group itself has even managed to get kicked out of the North of England Raptor Forum - which must take some doing. When the first comment to the blog entry was a plea for that same website to be given more publicity I felt it was right to say why that would not (in my view) have been sensible.

      1. Amazing how Ian picks out a few stories regarding a web site which covers a lot more than most including the Lammergeier, Black Vulture, Malta, Amur Falcons, Lead in America and here. Not forgetting the first to report the removal of raptors on Bowland. Few if any show the plight of Short eared Owls so decimated from Red Grouse moors.

        Interesting that the web site was attacked for trying to protect Buzzards from Natural England issuing licenses to kill them while it looked like no one else did a thing especially as the scheme we were advertising worked in America. I wonder if any staff from Natural England tried to 'Rock the boat' to protect those Buzzards?

      2. I follow them on Facebook and lots of people comment underneath most good comments because the work they do is fantastic but you do get the odd gamekeeper slating them. Stop all this bickering they do good work and have one objective to save raptors

  5. This thread is a bit like a scene from "The Life of Brian" or a taxoinomy discussion: "splitters".

    Anyway, if video evidence is not admissible how can any speeding convictions be upheld? How can any crime recorded on somebodies mobile phone or CCTV but not on their property be used as evidence? I am sure Ben Stokes will be interested in the outcome of the decision on admissibility.

    1. I think the argument is over covert surveillance. Drivers are fully aware (or at any rate should be) that their speed is monitored by cameras. Likewise the monitoring of public space with cameras of the kind that filmed Ben Stokes is not hidden. We all know that town centres are covered by cameras. In the case of the raptor persecution cases they involve hidden cameras on private land and that is where the problem lies. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act places restrictions on the use of covert surveillance and there are good reasons for that to do with the protection of everyone's human rights (the law has to strike a reasonable balance between individual freedoms and rights on the one hand and maintaining law and order and national security on the other). Unfortunately the technicalities associated with these restrictions can sometimes be exploited by defendants who are otherwise 'bang to rights' to challenge the admissibility of evidence if they can find anything to suggest procedures have not been correctly followed.

      1. The legal argument always seems to be covert surveillance because that's about all they can challenge. I have made this point here a number of times and I think it isn't quite understood by all readers.

  6. Agree Northern Diver. We must stand together and see the bigger picture. Don't let the shooting industry divide and rule.

  7. Well done to RSPB for bringing about the case. And well done Terry Pickford for publicising the fact that zero Peregrines nested in Bowland last year. There seems to be good historical data of how raptor thrived in that area over a long period of time. [Sentence removed by Mark who is probably too cautious in what he will allow to appear here about a legal case that is not yet resolved]

  8. Mark writes: comment not posted. This is a live legal case and I am going to be extremely careful that nothing posted here is prejudicial to the integrity of that case. I am unlikely to post further comments here because it is unlikely that there is anything much to be said that can be said that hasn't been said. Other blogs are available on which to post comments but I would merely advise that it might be better to keep quiet.

  9. Mark, my comment posted above and now removed by you had nothing whatsoever to do with any on-going live criminal case.

    [Mark writes: large amount of text deleted. Terry - I felt it did. And if it didn't, then it was irrelevant to this particular post. Whereas I am interested in what Michael Gove says and does a post about a court case in Lancashire is not the place to start ge4tting into that subject. Comments here should be relevant to the post in question and, as above, on a post about a live court case then I am going to be particularly strict.]

    1. Mark, using your arguement, many of the comments above, in particular Ian Carters comments about the NWRG and myself are not relevant to the post in question are they, but they were posted never the less, why? It appears to be a witch hunt by Ian Carter, without any credibale foundation. I am still waiting to receive a relpy from Mr Carter clarifing which nests I am acused of visiting several times. The fact that this detail has not been forthcoming underminds Mr Carters claims completely. I am very disappointed that Ian Carter seems very eager to extend the snipping and mud slinging, which you and I agreed must stop many months ago, which I am sure you will agree is an agreement I have not broken.

      1. Terry - you do have a point there (wrt to other comments) but I am unlikely to post (m)any other comments on this post.

  10. Terry (and Mark), I felt my comments were relevant (and worthwhile) given earlier comments on the post. I stand by every word but don't have anything to add here. Any interested readers can very easily check out the website referred to and make up their own minds. Terry, I will agree to provide chapter and verse in the appropriate place if you will agree to publish it (in full).

  11. What's the latest on this case or are you now to embarrassed to let us all know the case has been thrown out!!!
    Not so quick to report and sling mud now are you Mark.Saves you any more trips up the M6

        1. Simon - thanks for you comment. See

  12. I don't need to see it.I obviously already knew Mark.
    Great news though and I trust Terry Pickfords YouTube clip of an innocent man will be taken down.
    I can smell something very sweet in the air and I'm very much looking forward to Mid August 2018!!!


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