An interesting contrast – the good, the bad and the ugly

Reaction from the shooting community to the sound of shooting and the coverage of a trapped Peregrine on a grouse moor in the Forest of Bowland:

 

The Good:  BASC are pretty much spot on in what they say:

BASC statement on RSPB peregrine film

BASC utterly condemns raptor persecution and other wildlife crime. There should be no hiding place for those who commit such crimes.

Footage released by the RSPB today starkly illustrates the point that much work needs to be done to deal with such criminals. The video should rightly appal every member of the shooting community.

It is in the interests of our protected species and the future of shooting that every opportunity is taken to identify and bring wildlife criminals to justice.

The legal issues around the methods by which this footage was obtained have been well documented. All those involved, including the RSPB, have a responsibility to ensure all procedures are followed so as not to compromise legal process.

This film should stiffen the resolve of the shooting community to ensure there is no tolerance of wildlife crime and those who perpetrate such acts.

 

The Bad: the GWCT say:

‘………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………’

 

The UglyMoorland Association makes their usual (except when saying ‘If we let the hen harrier in we will soon have nothing else‘) token condemnation of wildlife crime and then spend the rest of their statement having a go at the RSPB.

Moorland Association responds to RSPB blog

The suffering of the Peregrine in the RSPB blog is barbaric and abhorrent. The Moorland Association condemns any incident of raptor persecution and the stamping out of wildlife crime is a shared goal across many countryside organisations that is making progress. We wholeheartedly support the police in their investigations where wildlife crime is suspected.

In this instance, the CPS was left with no choice but to abandon the case after the judge discredited the evidence and said that investigating officers had acted in a ‘clandestine and irregular way’ and ‘outwith their remit.’ She also said that obtaining covert camera footage without consulting the police was ‘wholly irregular’. It was made clear in this case that video footage was covertly filmed without reference to the police.

It is quite clear from the judge’s remarks that she felt RSPB cannot ride roughshod over the correct way to gather evidence. In this case, the actions of the RSPB let everyone down by acting as a law unto themselves.

This is not the first time a case has been dropped due to RSPB mishandling an investigation. There has been recent criticism from the police, the Crown Office in Scotland and, now, a District Judge in England. Undermined investigations are not only a waste of time for police and prosecution authorities and of public money, but do nothing to eradicate wildlife crime

 

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16 Comments

  1. Jonathan Wallace says:

    Congratulations to BASC for honestly acknowledging what the video clearly shows.

    Shame on the Moorland Association who know full well that if they tie the hands of the RSPB investigations team no persecution crimes will be directly detected, still less prosecuted and - hey presto! - there will be no persecution problem on the grouse moors.

    Likes(11)Dislikes(1)
  2. Jeff P says:

    "They appear to be hammering something into the ground."

    Is it another nail in the coffin of DGS? Tick, tock...

    Likes(14)Dislikes(1)
  3. Filbert Cobb says:

    If a case fails because the judge doesn't like the fact that video footage was covertly filmed without reference to the police doesn't that invalidate every domestic CCTV and dashcam video that has ever been used in evidence?

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    • Mark says:

      Filbert - apparently not - but I'm not a lawyer. I take your point. It seems as if the implementation of the law is uneven in this respect and needs sorting out. But there is a bit of sense in the view that there is no point banging your head against a brick wall over and over again. Why not just release the video as soon as you have it (with whatever caveats and redactions necessary), say that it has not been given to the police because you have no confidence that the law will act on such evidence and simply use it for immediate publicity? Or, start to change the law or the implementation of the law?

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  4. Circus maxima says:

    It is encouraging to see that BASC would support the use of legal covert video. "It is in the interests of our protected species and the future of shooting that every opportunity is taken to identify and bring wildlife criminals to justice." Should be interpreted as BASC support for more cctv coverage. I won't hold my breath but after saying this they should be doing two things.
    1. Encouraging their members to accept covert species protection cameras by default. (After all only the guilty should object).
    2. Campaigning to have the legal loophole closed.

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  5. Bob W says:

    Surely an important point is that the admissibility of such evidence has not been tested (as far as I know) in a higher court. And to test it in a higher court you need to take the right case - not one where the CPS messed up.

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  6. Jonathan Wallace says:

    It is also worth re-stating that, according to RPUK's analysis of the case, the evidence was ruled as inadmissible in this case because the CPS' poor handling of the court case left the judge with no option but to accept the defence's argument. The CPS barrister for unfathomable reasons declined to take the opportunity offered to him to call live witnesses to contest the arguments of the defence. Had the case been more effectively presented by the barrister it is far from certain that the evidence would not have been allowed to be presented.

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    • Random22 says:

      So what is being done to investigate the CPS barrister for basically throwing the case then? Who is digging into their background to find the reason? Are they incompetent or is there something else? Those who are supposed to enforce the law need to be dragged if they don't, if nothing else they can always be used then pour encourager les autres.

      I swear it is stuff like this which makes it so much more important to upload footage and photos to social media before alerting the police. Remember the lady who dumped a live cat in the wheelie bin? Social media did what the law was reluctant to do and the outcry essentially forced the law to act.

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      • Mark says:

        Random22 - I think the job of a CPS guy/gal is pretty hard work compared with that of a QC flown in to lead the case for the Defence. Overworked, underpaid, accustomed to drunk driving wife-beaters rather than the complexities of wildlife law. After all, most coppers don't know that much about this law.

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        • Bob W says:

          I agree with you up to a point Mark but there's nothing very complex about the judge asking to view the video. Presumably the prosecution could have asked for a brief adjournment to try and sort it out.

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        • Random22 says:

          If I were to tell my boss that I didn't bother doing part of my job properly because I felt it was too hard, well I'd soon find myself pretty underworked if you catch my drift.

          You can plead incompetence for them on their behalf if you want, but I'm sick of reasonable and "civil" people making excuses for the cock ups that happen which only ever seem to benefit the opposition. It is like you are handing them a stick and then closing you eyes. Stop making excuses, start holding them to the fullest account instead.

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  7. Ian Carter says:

    Interesting contrast between the statements. MA increasingly desperate in trying to protect the niche, high-end shooting interests they represent. BASC increasingly realising that MA are dragging down all shooting interests with their antics. The longer this goes on the greater the risk for the responsible, law-abiding shooters (of which there are many).

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  8. Paul V Irving says:

    I think Jonathan Wallace has the right of it, had the prosecution lead called the appropriate live witnesses as I understand it there was a very good chance that the video and thus all the evidence that followed would have been admitted as evidence in the case but the defence argument was essentially unchallenged. Whilst one has no wish to prejudge, it seems difficult to believe that under those circumstances the accused would have been acquitted.
    BASC have for some little while led the shooting lobby in following a completely correct and law supporting line. GWCT say nothing that might upset the paymasters, whilst Moorland Association the organisation of the paymasters finds it hard to do the right thing so takes the easy and poorest option of RSPB bashing whereas had they truly supported wildlife law the ought to have said similar things to BASC or traduced the CPS for the poor standard of prosecution brief. All in all RSPB have been vindicated in many ways, BASC supports the law and the Moorland Assoc. along with their servant organisation is a another step closer to the edge of the precipice.
    I wonder is it worth asking the MA if the estate or owner are still members and the NGO if the accused remains a member?

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  9. John Cantelo says:

    It seems highly unlikely that this was done by anyone other than someone with close links to the game shooting industry. Since the shooting community in the area must be relatively small, I find it hard to believe that those who work with this man wouldn't instantly recognise him from this footage. Despite all the public crocodile tears and hand-wringing, I rather doubt that his employers will have sanctioned or that his peers shunned him for his actions. I think this tells us where their true sympathies lie.

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    • Paul V Irving says:

      He did loose his Job over this if reports are correct. Of course that may be for being caught or worse embarrassing his employer.

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      • Random22 says:

        And their new job is? We see in America with cops who do the dirty, they get fired in the town they committed misdeeds in and are hired again as cops one town over and still in the same commuting district. Where is he now? One shoot over?

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