Maybe the Vice Chair of the GWCT was having a forgetful moment…allegedly.
See Sev Carrell in The Guardian (including a great quote from GWCT which says nothing at all) and Raptor Persecution UK.
Why was this kept so quiet for so long? Not because of the identity of the family apparently involved, surely?
There is probably no more illustrious name associated with driven grouse shooting, save for the Duke of Westminster and the Queen, than that of the Astor family.
Tillypronie is now sold (although not to DaveCam), and along with it some rather nice artwork.
Philip Astor is a regular attendee at RSPB AGMs and usually has a pointed question or two to ask – seems like he may have some questions to answer now.
I get on pretty well with Philip on a personal level although we differ in our beliefs fairly fundamentally. It has sometimes happened that he and I have been the last people still awake, and with a drink in our hands, at various establishments. We have had some robust discussions about driven grouse shooting. It will be interesting to see whether he says anything publicly about this matter, and whether he stays as a Vice Chair of GWCT.
8 Replies to “Any idea who that ‘keeper is?”
This story is a great illustration of the problems with DGS. The panjundrums of the shooting community are unanimous in their pious condemnation of the few (they claim) ‘bad apples’ who break the law and persecute birds of prey but it nevertheless carries on relentlessly under their watch. We are forced to conclude either that they are not speaking in good faith or that they do not have the control and influence that they claim over their sport/industry. I would suggest that perhaps the truth is a mixture of the two: there are sins of omission as well as sins of commission and the tendency of grouse shooting’s masters to play down the problem of illegal persecution and pretend it is not happening is actually conniving in its continuation. Tillypronie may be seen as the driven grouse shooting industry in microcosm. Who knows where the gamekeeper got his orders from or if he was acting on his own initiative? But by saying nothing and keeping a man in his employment for a further four years after he has been found out carrying out a serious crime that lies at the very heart of the charges against DGS, Astor has – at the very least – failed to show the kind of leadership that would justify any faith in the ability or will of DGS to put its own house in order.
This whole affair stinks to high heaven.
As far as the public have been led to believe, two proceeding cases were abandoned by the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service in association with the Scottish Crown Office. These cases were to use evidence from concealed cameras placed by the RSPB. It seemed strange, if not a conspiracy to defeat the course of justice, at the time it was announced.
This is a third case where evidence obtained from a concealed RSPB camera not only did not proceed to court but was hidden from the public by SNH. It was dealt with by means of a general licence restriction on an individual, whom you may not know but clearly the police and SNH could readily identify.
The legitimate question arises; was the decision not to prosecute influenced by the owner of the estate who could, even without a prosecution, have ended up in court himself, and why was he not prosecuted? We can of course never know if a case was prepared.
Conspiracy theorists could also ask the following, with the knowledge, if true, gleaned from the Guardian piece:
Did this video evidence have any influence on the decision not to continue with the prosecution of the other 2 cases?
Was the Philip Astor factor relevant in this whole sorry saga?
Did this have a bearing on the sale of the estate?
Is the Scottish Legal System still vastly skewed towards the desires of the large landowners?
Will the Scottish Parliament take any concrete steps towards allowing video evidence to be used in such cases?
I think the big question you should ask Philip Astor the next time you share a drink with him is why did he carry on employing this gamekeeper, 2 years after he got caught setting illegal traps? I mean surely, he must have caused huge problems for the estate and Philip Astor. So why did he carry on employing the gamekeeper? Especially considering that essentially the gamekeeper was no longer able to do his job fully, because of the general licence restrictions imposed on him.
I see gamekeepers as partly victims in these circumstances rather than the major perpetrators. That he and the previous incarcerated keeper (can’t happen again until the law is changed) were kept employed is probably tacit admission of the guilt (not proven) of the employer. Is should be noted that this employer has not been to court (why?) and the employer of George Mutch it has been suggested could not be identified due to tax haven companies although the estate still received subsidies not concerned by tax haven status. (Why again?). I expect the employees of these estates are paid near minimum wage only increased by untaxed handouts from shooters.
Until those in the Crown Office are silenced by either the approbium of their colleagues or changes to the Law, Scotland will remain a country where large landowners are treated with kid gloves at the very least, and their employees and the “vermin” pay the price.
I find it hard to believe that lowly gamekeepers would spend a lot of time and effort, taking big risks to do things that are only of benefit to their employers, if their employers really disapproved.
Scottish Natural Heritage are corrupt.
A simple Google search links a name with tillypronie though the references are dated.
2005 We are grateful to the landowner and keepers of the Tillypronie estate for allowing us to conduct the work on their grouse moor. Particular thanks are due to the headkeeper S. McConnachie for his help with.
1998 Tillypronie Estate and Sandy McConnachie
Sandy McConnachie retired as head keeper years ago. Shame on you for trying to connect him with this report.
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