Questions for the Environment Minister

WheelhouseFollowing yesterday’s announcement by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse on his proposed further measures to tackle the illegal persecution of Scottish raptors (here), we’d like to follow up by asking him for some clarifications on the latest measures, and for some updates on previously-promised measures. If you want to cut and paste these questions and send them yourself, or adapt them in your own letter, or simply cut and paste this blog’s URL to your own letter, please feel free. His email address appears at the foot of this page.

Question 1.

Please can you clarify whether the Lord Advocate has instructed COPFS to accept covert video footage as admissible evidence in prosecutions for alleged raptor persecution incidents?

Question 2.

Please can you clarify the timescale for SNH’s review for introducing potential restrictions on the use of General Licences in areas where they have good reason to believe crimes against wild birds have been committed? In other words, when can we expect the review to be completed? Also, will their review be made publicly available?

Question 3.

Please can you advise whether there will be a prosecution under the new vicarious liability legislation following the recent conviction of gamekeeper Peter Bell, found guilty of poisoning offences on the Glasserton and Physgill Estates (here)? If you don’t know the answer (which would be surprising, given that you said in March 2013 that you would be “keeping an eye on this particular area [i.e. vicarious liability] with interest“, see here), please can you provide the contact details of someone who can answer the question?

Question 4.

Please can you tell us the status of the Scottish Government’s first annual report (2012) into wildlife crime? As you know, under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, there is a now a requirement (under section 26B) that ‘Scottish Ministers must, after the end of each calendar year, lay before the Scottish Parliament a report on offences relating to wildlife’ (see here for copy of the WANE Act 2011). You mentioned in March 2013 that your policy officials ‘are currently working on’ this report (see here). When can we expect this report to be available?

Question 5.

Please can you tell us when, exactly, will you open the consultation regarding the increase of SSPCA powers to broaden the range of their work  investigating wildlife crime? As you know, this consultation was first suggested by former MSP Peter Peacock as an amendment during the WANE Act debates, way back in February 2011. The then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham rejected it as an amendment but suggested a consultation was in order (see here). Seven months later in September 2011, MSP Elaine Murray lodged a motion that further powers for the SSPCA should be considered (see here). In November 2011, Elaine Murray MSP formalised the question in a P&Q session and the next Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, then promised that the consultation would happen in the first half of 2012 (see here). Nothing happened so in September 2012 we asked you, as the new Environment Minister, when the consultation would take place (see here). In response to one of our blog readers in October 2012 your policy officer said: “The consultation has been delayed by resource pressures but will be brought forward in the near future“. Nine months later and we’re in July 2013 – almost 2.5 years after Scottish Ministers committed to undertaking the consultation. Where is it?


4 thoughts on “Questions for the Environment Minister”

  1. If you copy and paste there a couple of spelling errors above.
    Q1 admissable admissible
    Q3 libaility to liability
    Q4 ammendment to amendment

    [Ed: Thanks – now amended!]

  2. Here’s an email I just sent ….


    I watched with interest the introduction of the legislation regarding Vicarious Liability and was looking forward to a prosecution of a culpable landowner/employer.

    Will the employer of Peter Bell, who was recently found guilty of poisoning offences, be prosecuted? If not, could you confirm that he/she took “all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to prevent the offence being committed”?

    Michael Gill

  3. Good pointed questions that may see PH thumbing through the Concise Handbook of Evasive Answers (or having someone do it for him) in order to formulate a reply that appears to provide every possible assistance short of actually being of help.
    Very easy to be cynical of all these political types.

  4. On 18 June, I sent an email to Paul Wheelhouse regarding vicarious liability in the Peter Finley Bell case. I’m still waiting for a response, so it would appear that the Minister for Environment is not interested in the issue at all.

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