The Stody Millions

Following the conviction of (former) Stody Estate gamekeeper Allen Lambert for the mass poisoning of birds of prey (see here and here), has anyone seen any sort of public statement or apology from the Stody Estate, Norfolk? We haven’t…

Lambert 9 bz

We noted with interest a comment from one of our readers (Rob – see here) who suggested asking the Rural Payments Agency whether they’ll be imposing a fine on Stody Estate Ltd’s Single Farm Payment due to a breach in Statutory Management Requirement 1. (See here for details of the cross compliance regulations).

We thought we’d have a look to see how many agricultural subsidies Stody Estate Ltd has received over the years (i.e. money given to them from our taxes to help them farm on the condition they look after the wildlife and wildlife habitats under their management). Here’s what we found a couple of days ago on the excellent Farm Subsidy website (although bizarrely, when we looked today we couldn’t find it) -:

2012. Direct payments under European Agricultural Guarantee Fund: 457,570 EUR

2012. European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: 274,710 EUR

2011. European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: 498,617 EUR

2011. Direct payments under European Agricultural Guarantee Fund: 427,449 EUR

2010. Direct payments under European Agricultural Guarantee Fund: 444,050 EUR

2010. European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: 190,052 EUR

2009. Rural development programmes: 113, 382 EUR

2009. Sugar Restructuring Fund: 58,102 EUR

2009. SPS (Single Payment Scheme): 345,027 EUR

2009. Additional amounts of aid: 139 EUR

2009. Irregularities EAGF – Assigned revenue: -842 EUR

2008. SPS (Single Payment Scheme): 366,524 EUR

2008. Rural development programmes: 135, 922 EUR

2008. Aid for energy crops: 3,630 EUR

2008. Additional amounts of aid: 232 EUR

2007. SPS (Single Payment Scheme): 356,453 EUR

2007. Aid for energy crops: 3,862 EUR

2007. Additional amounts of aid: 190 EUR

2007. Irregularities EAGF – Assigned revenue: -49 EUR

2006. SPS (Single Payment Scheme): 266,781 EUR

2006. Aid for energy crops: 1,053 EUR

2005. Area aid for producers of cereals, oilseeds, proteins, grass sileage and set aside: 254,699 EUR

2004. Aids for producers of cereals: 168,223 EUR

2004. Set-aside: 66,370 EUR

2004. Agri-environment-Farmer system (2000-2006): 39,030 EUR

2004. Aids for producers of peas, field beans & sweet lupins: 31,836 EUR

2004. Aids for producers of soya beans, rape seed & sunflower seed: 16,821 EUR

2004. Aids for producers of non-textile flax seed and hemp grown for fibre: 7,398 EUR

2004. Forestry – New system (2000-2006): 303 EUR

2004. Forestry – Former system (2000-2006): 294 EUR

2004. Other expenditure related to direct payments for arable crops: -30,722 EUR

In total, this amounts to 4,538,719 EUR (£3,549,122.60 GBP).

However, we also found something else on the Farm Subsidy website (which again, bizarrely, we cannot seem to find today). Another recipient was also listed whose address was given as Stody Estate Office, Melton Constable, NR24 2ER: a company by the name of GC & FC Knight Ltd. According to this website, GC & FC Knight Ltd was the former name of Stody Estate Ltd – it was changed to Stody Estate Ltd on 17th December 2002.

So how come, on the Farm subsidy website, GC & FC Knight Ltd are listed as having received 1,264,590 EUR (£991,049,56 GBP) between 2000-2004, if the company changed it’s name to Stody Estate Ltd in 2002?

All very strange. Unless of course the subsidies are paid two years in arrears? If anyone can enlighten us, please do!

Either way, it’s clear from these records that the people farming on Stody Estate have received millions in agricultural subsidies. In light of their gamekeeper’s conviction for mass poisoning using banned pesticides, it would be very interesting to find out if the Rural Payments Agency will be considering a substantial fine for breach of the subsidies regulations. Surely they have to show that wildlife crime doesn’t pay? You can ask them here:

UPDATE: 10 October 2014 – the Rural Payments agency responds here

25 thoughts on “The Stody Millions”

  1. All very dodgy! I suppose it’s a bit like those who go bankrupt who then change their names & come back to rob us under a different guise! We need some sort of independent Ombudsman who can review how agencies such as the RPA spend our money (& I mean some with teeth & can bite!)

  2. I really don’t understand why this isn’t front page news, above the mp expenses scandals.
    Well done again RPS and contributors.

    1. Because Westminster, the judicial system and the UK media, are all part of the establishment. We had a chance to free ourselves from this on 18th Sep, and build a progressive nation, but the people of Scotland chose to remain shackled to the most corrupt and dysfunctional system mankind has ever known.

  3. Readers could e-mail the estate manager direct – for an explanation as to why the estate’s keeper was allowed to poison so many birds of prey. He’s also on twitter as @rosshx although he doesn’t appear to be a particularly prolific tweeter.

  4. That’s some pile of cash,, talk about feather bedded farmers … for single farm payment, claims must be submitted before June, and will be paid later in December. I think eventually it will be phased out. It is meant to be a better way of subsidy compared to the old headage payments, which just encouraged over production.. Theres a small amount of it now being withheld and going into modulation, which is meant to go into stewardship schemes.

  5. There’s an additional lesson to be learned by every single one of us here . . .

    . . . if you find useful or incriminating information on any website – even a government one – make a screen shot or save the page to your hard drive. You never know when it might suddenly disappear!

    1. The “raw” data behind the website are actually available for download at The file (“GB.tar.bz2”) is over 2 GB in size so requires a bit of parsing and wrangling with which I’ve done. If anyone from RPS wants this file containing the information on both Stody Estate and GC & FC Knight (which I’m unable to post here of course) please drop me a line.

      1. Arnie, many thanks. We had already taken copies of the Stody pages and the GC & FC Knight page, but thank you for your offer – much appreciated.

        Still don’t understand why the ‘normal’ data pages (which is from where we downloaded the data) are now apparently ‘missing’ from the main website. A bit like the Fieldsports Magazine’s review of the Stody Estate shoot which also ‘disappeared’. Fascinating stuff.

  6. I agree, surely someone somewhere must be in a position to take further action on this in light of a court conviction. If not, why not?

  7. Obviously the MacNicol family have learned to “play the Game”. To obtain all and every grant that is possibly available. I am not against the grants for farmers, in the majority of cases I’m sure they need all the help they can get and, they do a remarkable and admiral job. But I do question the likes of wealthy estates with 4,000 acres and the like, who appear to be allegedly breaking the law.
    I agree with Anand Prasad above, surely this should be the public domain via the press etc. And how come the information posted above has disappeared from the original site?
    Like most things in this life, when it comes down to the bottom line it’s all about money. And, if that means killing a few hundred birds or so, or wiping out Badgers, Foxes etc, so what……gotta make MORE money!

  8. Surely the issues around the storage and use of poisons would be adequate reason to raise concerns with the Health and Safety Executive about the management of Stody Estate ?

  9. For too long GAEC has been side-lined as a minor inconvenience that simply forces the Department of agriculture to tick a box. If we could claim it back and give it some teeth it could be a very powerful tool.

  10. This probably will be soon in the press, it is a recent case and probably not been reported on yet.
    Theres no mystery about Single farm payments, its on the website for anyone to look at. Its not really money for nothing, first you’ve got to buy a farm or land, then farm it, which can be a hard job, theres a lot of things that can go wrong, . It is meant to aid farmers and help to keep the price of our food down, without it many smaller hill farmers would probably not manage, but Im certain this sub has driven the price of land right up, which is bad for anyone wanting to buy a bit to do conservation things with. Land is so expensive every last bit now seems to be kept for production..
    It is so sad about what that keeper has been doing, hopefully now the buzzard numbers may build up with him hopefully not operating.
    Take note any other keepers reading ,cases like this will cause the end of game shooting.

  11. Ill certainly asking them and i forming them to end there payments until a full inquiry has been made to exactly what’s been going on at that estate and said Gamekeeper, another example of our “Bent” government.


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  12. Just wondering if anyone has experience of the Rural Payments Agency; I today received a response to my query regarding the Stody Estate’s Single Farm Payment relating to SMR1 saying they were considering a “potential cross compliance breach” and were investigating whether any action should be taken. Has anyone encountered this before; is it a sop to fob me (and others) off in the hope that we’ll forget about it in a few weeks time and they’ll be able to ignore it?

    1. This is the response I received today:

      Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning the Norfolk gamekeeper found guilty of killing protected species of birds.

      I can confirm that RPA will consider what action can be taken under the cross compliance rules in respect of the offences for which the gamekeeper was convicted.

      Thank you again for bringing this case to our attention.

      Should you have any further queries please contact us again quoting reference number 545124.


      As they have kindly provided a reference number then at least I can chase them up. I don’t know whether you can use FOI to find out whether any investigation took place and whether any fines were imposed.

  13. no its possible for offenders to be fined by a small percentage maybe 5% of the single farm payment, this certainly applies to animal keepers who have not got all ear tags fitted. I am not really sure about a none farming offence, be interesting to see what happens, though it will probably be kept private, the rpa have no obligation to tell anyone about their business.

    1. Maybe we should allow the RPA a month to ‘consider’ the ‘potential’ breach and then chase them up about it?

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