Convicted gamekeeper Glenn Brown was a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation

Well finally, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has responded to one of the many emails we know were sent to them asking whether convicted gamekeeper Glenn Brown was one of their members (see here).

Here is the reply sent to one of our readers today:

From Ann Robinson-Ruddock (NGO) – “Thank you for your enquiry. I can confirm that Mr Brown was a member of the NGO but that following his convictions he has resigned“.

Fascinating. I guess we now know why the NGO has been reluctant to make a public statement on its website since Brown’s conviction in June 2011. Although to be fair, perhaps they’ve waited seven months to see whether his appeal, based on the assertion that he’d been ‘framed’ by the RSPB, was successful. We found out a week ago that his appeal  had failed, some might say spectacularly. Yet still the NGO has failed to make a public statement.

Wouldn’t you expect an organisation, that not only promotes itself as a member of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime, but states on its website that “Our organisation has a strict disciplinary code  and does not tolerate those who bring the gamekeeping profession into disrepute“, to make a big song and dance about publicly condemning Brown’s criminal activities, and making sure that everyone knew he’d been expelled from the organisation? What we get instead is a delayed private response, that says Brown has resigned, and no mention of condemnation or expulsion.

Is there any wonder that conservationists are so cynical when it comes to trusting the sincerity of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation? At least when twice-convicted gamekeeper David Whitefield was outed as being a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association in December 2011, the SGA had the sense to immediately and publicly admit that he was a member, outrightly condemn his criminal activities and kick him out of the club (although the phrase they used was ‘suspended’ rather than ‘expelled for good’ – see here). UPDATE: the SGA has now reportedly given Whitefield “a life ban” (see here).

Come on National Gameepers’ Organisation – when the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association is making you look bad you know your public credibility rating is probably at rock bottom!

Thank you to the contributor who sent us the NGO email and thanks to everyone who contacted the NGO and pressurised them for an answer.

Cumbrian man ‘not in any way connected to red kite deaths’ has outstanding charges discontinued

Following the blog posts on 6 December 2011 (see here) and 8 January 2012 (see here), Cumbrian farmer Allan Armistead, who was found guilty in December 2011 of ten pesticide and firearms offences, has today had the three remaining charges against him discontinued.

At Furness and Barrow magistrates court today, Armistead was due to be given a date for his trial to continue at crown court. The charges he faced concerned the alleged storing of pesticide sodium cyanide, storing strychnine hydrochloride, and storing lead arsenate. He had denied all three charges. The reason for the discontinuation has not been given.

It was reported by Cumbria Police that Armistead, 74, of Hulleter Farm in Oxen Park, Ulverston, Cumbria, was originally charged with pesticide and firearms offences following their investigation into the illegal killing of several red kites in the area (see here). However, during his sentencing at Preston Crown Court on 6 January 2012 (for pesticide and firearms offences), it was accepted by the court that there was no evidence that Armistead was in any way connected to the deaths of the red kites. He was fined £7,000, plus £2,300 costs, and ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work for the seven pesticide and three firearms offences. It was also reported that he lost his firearms and shotgun licence.

As far as we are aware, nobody has been charged with the deaths of the red kites.

Is he, or isn’t he?

Last Tuesday (24 Jan), Derbyshire gamekeeper Glenn Brown lost his appeal against his conviction for seven offences under the Wildlife & Countryside and Animal Welfare Acts (see here).

On 25 January 2012, we asked whether Glenn Brown was a member (or now an ex-member) of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), and encouraged readers to contact the NGO and ask for themselves. I don’t know about you, but the NGO has so far ignored the email we sent to them about it.

Interestingly, the NGO was very quick to post a statement on its website recently about the conviction of a Norfolk head keeper and his apprentice for animal cruelty offences (see here). The NGO stated that neither of the offenders were members of the NGO, and this statement was posted the day after the two were sentenced (sentenced on 11 Jan, NGO web statement posted 12 Jan 2012). UPDATE 8 FEB 2012: the NGO has now removed the statement on its website about the Norfolk head keeper and his apprentice.

So, why the silence over Glenn Brown? Was he a member of the NGO or not? It’s a simple enough question, isn’t it?

If anyone else wants to ask the NGO, you can contact them at:

Poisoned red kite is ninth to die in County Wicklow, Ireland

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that another red kite has been confirmed illegally poisoned – the ninth kite to be killed this way in County Wicklow, Ireland. According to the report, the breeding female (known as Blue Purple G – her wing tag code) was found by Brittas Bay late last year.

She was one of the first young red kites to have been released in Ireland in 2007 as part of the Golden Eagle Trust’s reintroduction programme. She is known to have found a mate and had successfully raised three young at her nest site. She is the third red kite to have been poisoned by Alphachloralose in the last five months.

Belfast Telegraph news report here

Golden Eagle Trust website here

Alice in Wonderland: curiouser and curiouser!

Are you sitting comfortably children? Then I’ll begin…

Once upon a time there was a girl called Alice, who fell down a rabbit hole and entered a fantasy world (‘Wonderland’) where everyone spoke gibberish and nothing made sense. In Wonderland, (also known as the Countryside Alliance HQ), Alice thought it was “absurd” that those evil-doers at the RSPB could claim that there were only four breeding pairs of hen harrier in England in 2011. Everybody in Wonderland knew that even though all the scientific studies proved otherwise, the hen harrier in England was not on the verge of extinction as an English breeding bird, that over 2,000 harriers were not ‘missing’ from the UK countryside, and in no way was anyone connected with game shooting responsible for the supposed decline.

To back up her theory, Alice suggested that “the hen harrier is more numerate than 7 out of the 15 species of birds of prey in this country“. Of course, everyone in Wonderland knew that the hen harrier is able to think and express itself effectively in quantitative terms (or, put more simply, the hen harrier is able to use numbers, i.e. it is “numerate”). How absurd to think otherwise! It’s those fools at the RSPB who are innumerate – they think two and two makes four, when clearly it makes 330 (which coincidentally is the predicted number of breeding hen harrier pairs that the scientist boffins clowns say are ‘missing’ from the oh-so wildlife-friendly grouse moors of northern England).

That’s the end of this fairytale – tune in next time to find out why the holocaust never happened. Night night, children, and beware of falling down rabbit holes! Although to be honest, there’s not much chance of that as most of them are stuffed with the corpses of illegally killed raptors.

For those of us living in the real world and not some kind of fantastical Wonderland like Alice and her chums, you might be interested in this newsblast that was written by Alice Barnard, Chief Exec of the Countryside Alliance (although not for much longer – see here) that arrived in my inbox this morning:

“The RSPB’s bird of prey officer has recently been claiming that the status of the hen harrier in England is so precarious due to illegal killing that he believes one wet spring or a fire at the wrong time of year could result in it becoming extinct. However, as the RSPB knows only too well, the term extinction is defined by the death of the very last of a kind, and its use to describe the future of the hen harrier is therefore nothing short of absurd; as is its claim that there are only 4 breeding pairs left in England.

In addition to Britain, the hen harrier occurs in a multitude of countries across the northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe and Asia. It has an extremely large population which is currently thought to be 167,000 breeding females, with no significant decline in that population globally. Internationally it is classified as a species of “Least Conservation Concern”, and with 663 pairs in the UK, the hen harrier is more numerate than 7 out of the 15 species of birds of prey in this country. Although only 4 pairs may have bred successfully in England in 2011, many hen harriers can be observed moving around the country throughout the year. The issue, therefore, is that of poor breeding success; not extinction.

There are numerous factors that can result in the poor breeding success of hen harriers, and in 2009 the RSPB and Natural England reported that it was entirely due to natural causes; not illegal persecution as all too frequently claimed by the RSPB. Indeed there have been no confirmed cases of persecution against the species for the last 5 years.

The fact is that hen harriers are vulnerable to predation by foxes and other birds of prey, lack of available prey, unintentional disturbance and by weather and accidental fires; or a combination of any of these. It also appears that there are other factors at play of which we are currently unaware, such as on the Isle of Man, where the RSPB’s 2010 survey found that the population of hen harriers had halved, for reasons still unknown.

We will continue to challenge the RSPB’s assertions of persecution against birds of prey as part of our promotion and defence of the shooting community and the valuable conservation work they do.

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance”.

Here is a link to the RSPB press release to which Alice may be referring (see here). Let’s hope that in her new position as Chief Exec of “a leading Education charity“, Alice does not need to use comprehension skills (the RSPB press release clearly states that they are referring to an ENGLISH hen harrier extinction, not a global one as Alice tries to infer), nor literacy skills (look up the word ‘numerate’, love). Maybe she’d be better sticking to fairytales – she does those quite well.

So who is set to replace Alice in Wonderland? Step forward some military guru, former head of the UK field army, the amusingly named Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner (see here). Are they expecting a war?

‘Unscrupulous liars’ in the Glenn Brown gamekeeper trial

Following the report that convicted gamekeeper Glenn Brown lost his appeal yesterday (see here), one of the RSPB investigators has blogged about his experience, and that of his colleagues, in the appeal process.

Mark Thomas discusses how he and three other RSPB investigation colleagues (Guy Shorrock, James Leonard and John McMahon) were repeatedly accused of being ‘unscrupulous liars’ by Glenn Brown’s defence team. Not for the first time (see here), the RSPB has been publicly accused of ‘planting evidence’ in order to gain a successful prosecution against a gamekeeper accused of raptor persecution. Also not for the first time, this ridiculous accusation has been found to be completely fabricated. I think we can probably make up our own minds as to the identity of the ‘unscrupulous liars’ based on all the evidence available in the public domain.

Mark Thomas goes on to suggest that the reason for the repeated attacks on the credibility and integrity of RSPB investigators is “…because RSPB Investigations working with the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service is the only dedicated team able to pull off these complex gamekeeper- related investigations and convictions, making us an obvious target“. Well, that’s almost true – in Scotland we also have the expertise of the SSPCA to rely upon – but nevertheless, Mark’s conclusion about why the RSPB is an obvious target is, well, obvious and accurate (see link in above paragraph for multiple examples of unfounded hostility from the game-shooting industry towards the RSPB).

Also included in Mark’s blog is a fascinating PDF that gives the full judgement notes from the judge at Brown’s original trial in June 2011. This really is well worth a read, and full credit to the RSPB for allowing this document to be published.

Mark Thomas (RSPB Investigations blog) here

Full judgement notes from Glenn Brown’s original trial: Glenn Brown full judgement notes June 2011

Man charged with shooting a buzzard has case adjourned until March

John Winn Roberts, 43, of Woodend Meadow, Ballymagorry, Strabane, Northern Ireland, appeared in front of magistrates on the Isle of Wight last Friday (20 January 2012) and pleaded not guilty to intentionally shooting a wild bird (a buzzard) on 26 November 2011 at a quarry in Newport, Isle of Wight. The case was adjourned until 22 March 2012 and Mr Roberts was granted unconditional bail.

The alleged offence was reported in the Isle of Wight County Press on 18 January 2012 (see here). Hampshire Constabulary led the investigation, with assistance from the RSPCA and the company ‘Bardon Vectis’, which runs the quarry where the alleged offence took place. The fate of the shot buzzard has not been reported.

More on this case after the next hearing.

Convicted gamekeeper Glenn Brown loses his appeal

The RSPB reports that Derbyshire gamekeeper Glenn Brown has lost his lengthy appeal against his conviction for seven offences relating to the illegal use  of a baited trap to take birds of prey, the intentional taking of a sparrowhawk, and numerous animal welfare offences.

Brown was convicted in June 2011 for the offences that took place on the National Trust’s Howden Moor in Derbyshire. Despite the penalties available, he was only given 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay £10,000 costs (see here, here, here and here for background).

According to the RSPB press release, Brown’s appeal, which began on 3 January 2012 at Derby Crown Court, included ‘a blistering attack against the integrity of the RSPB, claiming evidence had been planted to incriminate Brown’. The appeal was dismissed on 24 January 2012 by Judge Watson, who commented on the credibility of the RSPB witnesses. Brown was ordered to pay a further £7,000 costs.

It is not known whether Brown was/is a member of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. You can find out by sending an email to:

RSPB press release here

Gamekeeper & apprentice avoid jail in cruelty case

Following the blog post on December 9th 2011 (see here), gamekeeper Christopher Carter and his apprentice Luke Byrne have been sentenced for their involvement in an horrendous animal cruelty case on the West Acre Estate in Norfolk.

See here for the sentencing report published in the Daily Mail. Unbelieveable.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has put out a statement to say that neither offender was a member of the NGO. They also say: ‘Independent research has shown that gamekeeping is a force for good in the countryside in terms of conserving wildlife habitat. Moreover, in many remote, rural areas, gamekeepers are in the frontline in the battle against wildlife crime‘. The statement was released by a massive porky pig as it flew over NGO headquarters and can be read here.

Another South Lanarkshire gamekeeper convicted of poison offence

Well well well. Another gamekeeper from South Lanarkshire has been convicted of possessing the banned pesticide, Carbofuran. Police were alerted to the location after a member of the public found a poisoned buzzard lying next to a pheasant bait near Loanhead Farm, Lamington, South Lanarkshire, in November 2010. Lab tests by SASA revealed Carbofuran in both birds.

Today at Lanark Sheriff Court, 63 year old keeper Cyril McLachlan was fined £635 after admitting possession of Carbofuran. Yet again, a weak penalty for what is supposedly considered a seriously grave offence by the Scottish Government. Not good enough.

It is not known whether McLachlan was a member of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association at the time of the offence. If anyone can shed any light on this, we’d be happy to hear about it. UPDATE: The SGA has now issued a statement to say McLachlan was not a member (see here).

Well done to RSPB and SSPCA and the other agencies involved in getting this case to court.

RSPB press release here