Regular blog readers will know that we’ve been chasing information about the first potential prosecution under the new vicarious liability legislation for some time.
The case in point relates to the conviction of gamekeeper Peter Bell, who was guilty of poisoning offences on the Glasserton and Physgill Estates in December 2012 (see here).
In July 2013 we asked the Environment Minister for an update on the VL prosecution (see here). He replied in August and said it would be inappropriate to comment as police enquiries had not yet concluded (see here). Fair enough.
By early October we expected the police enquiries to have been completed, ten months after the original offence was committed, so we asked the Environment Minister for an update (see here).
One of our blog readers wrote the following comment a couple of days ago:
“I duly sent an e-mail to Mr Wheelhouse about the update on whether or not there would be a prosecution under the vicarious liability following Mr Bells conviction. I’m apparently not allowed to post the reply anywhere but was told Mr Wheelhouse is unable to enter into discussion about such matters and I was pointed in the direction of The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for any information I might want“.
Interesting. So the first excuse given was that ‘police enquiries had not yet concluded’, and that has now changed to ‘Wheelhouse is unable to enter into discussion’ (and apparently members of the public are not permitted to publish the Minister’s replies to their queries).
Anyone getting the impression that these answers are designed to subdue any further reporting on this case?
Wheelhouse has apparently suggested contacting the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for the information. Let’s do that, taking note of the word ‘service’ – they are supposedly serving us, the general public.
The thing is, we’re not too sure who within COPFS to contact for this information. Rumour has it that the head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit (WECU) at COPFS, Craig Harris, has since moved on. Rumour also has it that a new head of unit has been installed although it’s not clear who that person is, although six-figure-Dysart’s name has been mentioned. Hmm.
We could ask the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, who is the ministerial head of COPFS, although we’ve been unable to find a direct email address for him.
Let’s try our luck with the COPFS’s general email address and ask the following questions:
Please can you tell us the name of the new head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit at COPFS? And please could you tell us whether there will be a prosecution under the vicarious liability legislation relating to the poisoning offences carried out at the Glasserton and Physgill Estates in December 2012? Thanks.
UPDATE: The email address to use is apparently this: _WildlifeSpecialists@copfs.gsi.gov.uk Please note the underscore at the beginning of the address. Thanks to the contributors who have provided this new address.