Ross-shire Massacre: SLE complains about media speculation

A-box-of-tissues-001A letter has been published in the Herald today, penned by Tim (Kim) Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates:

Speculation around bird of prey deaths has become more hysterical

The announcement by Police Scotland that the 20 raptors found poisoned in March near Conon Bridge were “not deliberately targeted” raises number of serious matters.

Despite the trend of crimes against birds of prey having gone down in the last 3-5 years, particularly by poisoning, the speculation around each case has become more hysterical; the RSPB even tried to link the Conon Bridge incident to grouse moor management. There are now websites and bloggers and organisations involved in police investigations who are not slow to feed information to the media and promote speculation.

This speculation is having a corrosive knock-on effect on many other aspects of land management, severely straining the relationship between land managers and conservation bodies.

This also brings into focus the new measure whereby General Licences to control pest birds may be withdrawn where there is only a suspicion of wildlife crime, rather than it being proven in court.

Any deliberate killing of a bird of prey is illegal and is to be condemned but it is not in anyone’s interests that various activists and organisations can leap to conclusions without any evidence to support their point of view which in turn is afforded political and media credence. It would be a major step forward if government and other interested organisations were to take a lead in ensuring that reckless speculation should be discouraged. If everyone sticks to the facts and works more constructively together then the interests of conservation will be better served.

Tim Baynes,

Scottish Moorland Group,

Scottish Land & Estates,

Stuart House,

Eskmills Business Park,


So our Kim wants everyone to “stick to the facts”. His own track record on sticking to facts isn’t very impressive (e.g. see here, here, here).

His latest letter was written in response to Police Scotland’s outrageous announcement last Friday that the illegal poisoning of 22 raptors at Conon Bridge seven months ago was “not deliberately targeted” (see here). That idiotic statement was pure speculation – is Kim complaining about that?

Earlier this year, Jamie McGrigor MSP speculated, during a televised parliamentary debate, that the Ross-shire Massacre could have been the result of accidental food contamination at the Tollie Red Kite feeding station (see here). Did Kim complain about that?

Kim & Co had better batten down the hatches – speculation is bound to be rife when Police Scotland consistently fail to provide timely, and accurate, updates about such appalling crimes.

Understandably, Kim and his mates would probably prefer everyone to just shut up about raptor persecution crimes. It’s a bit too late for that.

Oh, and by the way, Kim, seeing as how you love facts, here’s one: It was twenty two dead raptors at Conon Bridge, not twenty. And here’s another fact: the Government’s 2013 wildlife crime report showed an increase in raptor persecution crimes. And guess what? The 2014 figures will also show an increase, because the ‘Conon Bridge 22’ will be included in those stats.

In other news, tissue sales are set to increase in Musselburgh.

There’s also an article in the Herald, based around the content of Kim’s letter and how he thinks that the speculation has ‘sullied’ the reputation of SLE members (here).

20 thoughts on “Ross-shire Massacre: SLE complains about media speculation”

  1. This type of publicity, even from SLE, has to be good for raptors. Thank you, SLE for gettng this into print.

  2. I sincerely hope the 22 raptors killed at Conon Bridge are included in the 2014 stats, since the police seem to have downgraded the incident from illegal poisoning to an accident. Maybe this was their intention? If there was no crime then they haven’t failed in their investigation!
    As the spokesperson for the local campaign group regarding the incident, I’m sorely tempted to let rip in the press…..I just don’t know what good it will do.

  3. Interestingly I put a comment on the Herald article to the effect that SLE should unambiguously condemn the illegal killing of raptors (as opposed to saying it “is to be”/”should be” condemned). It was removed within minutes, as was my follow-up comment asking why my comment had been removed. Maybe it’s being moderated or something.

    1. Nothing of that sort showing at 6pm!
      See how long my post lasts.

      “Mix up or otherwise these birds have been killed illegally, presumably by an irresponsible landowner or employee of same. Does the Herald do investigative journalism? There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to analyse and question the statements made by the SL&E representative.

      How about an analysis of all radio tagged raptors and where they have stopped transmitting? I think that would make for a very revealing article.

      Is the Herald Scotland up for it?”

        1. When I looked earlier it said it was waiting moderation. Not saying anything now but moderation is 9am to 6pm. Surely the Herald is in favour of free speech!

    2. As a result of the apparent censorship, I decided to post a comment on the Herald page. It read as;

      “So that would be illegal pest control measures, then? Pest control measures must follow strict guidelines on the controlled use of rodenticides, and it is patently obvious that these measures were not followed in this instance.

      Police Scotland has already stated that the poison used in this case was a banned substance, and some people have claimed it was Carbofuran, a poison that has been banned in the UK since 2001. The mere possession of Carbofuran is a criminal act. In addition to that, some poisoned baits were found at the scene, so for Police Scotland to suggest that these deaths were the result of an accident, is farcical.

      Perhaps Police Scotland would like to explain to the public how they have arrived at this “accidental” theory? How can someone accidentally possess a banned substance, then accidentally place the banned, poisonous substance on small pieces of meat, then accidentally place these pieces of meat in an area with a known population of Red Kites?”

      As far as I am concerned, my comment is factual, and there is nothing controversial about the piece. It went into moderation at about 7pm. Now, I do understand that after 6pm, comments are moderated on a part-time basis, but after refreshing the page after half an hour, it still said my comment was in the moderation queue. Now, after refreshing the page again, the comment has disappeared completely, with no mention of it being moderated. Now, it could well be that there are a limited number of people working as moderators on the comments section, and therefore they are not able to make frequent updates, however, a quick look at the comments sections on the sports pages shows that some comments made in the past few minutes have been allowed.

      Again, this brings us to the fact that the corrupt UK establishment media is deliberately withholding the truth from the public.

      1. Marco, your post was visible amongst 8 comments last night around 10pm ish. 7 comments now and yours is missing.
        The Herald’s moderation policy.
        “We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
        If you’re a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you’ve broken the rules”

        Are you a trusted regular and been subsequently censored?

  4. Tim Baynes sees speculation sullying the reputation of SLE members! Unfortunately it’s every raptor persecution event in Scotland which sullies their name even if only guilty by association. Publicity, such as Tim’s, only fuels the speculation and through factual distortion adds to the guilt on the part of SLE. Police Scotland then aggravate matters further by bumbling and providing the very best climate for wholesale speculation. You’d think they would have enough sense to see the damage they are doing to their cause!

  5. The biggest “speculators” here appear to be the police…wheres the evidence for “not deliberately targeted”?..if they know that the surely they have enough evidence to arrest this “accidental poisoner”?

  6. Yet again with the shooting lobby. Ignore everything before a ‘but’.
    “Any deliberate killing of a bird of prey is illegal and is to be condemned but “

  7. Slightly off topic, I know, but has anyone seen SNH’s response to the SSPCA consultation? Are they not required to make one?

  8. Whether or not the birds were deliberately targeted, the event is shameful and sinks the Black Isle to the level of Malta / Cyprus in the bird crime league. Possibly the most frustrating thing is the fact that the Black Isle is pure farming country – closer to the English Chilterns in character than to the upland grouse moors. The Chilterns now have thousands of red kites and the farmers co-exist peacefully with them. Why on earth can we not live with them on the Black Isle?

  9. In a way I feel sorry for people on the shooting estates, they are so paranoid about being discovered committing criminal wildlife persecution that they’ll go to extreme lengths to hide their despicable activities, lies seem to flow freely at every opportunity, according to them nobody ever commits an offence against protected Raptors on their estates, they know they are lying and we know they are lying, soon everybody will know they are lying.

    I mean to say, many of them are so-called peers of the realm, members of parliament and probably even higher status, how can anyone ever believe these sort of people are capable of doing something so despicable as killing legally protected Raptors just to further their own ends?

    They must stand in front of the mirror every day while they rehearse the same old tired rhetoric about how good they are for the welfare of our wildlife and the countryside, and it’s only a few bad apples among them who are bringing them into disrepute, I think they’ve become so used to saying it so often they actually believe it themselves, fortunately we don’t. Just so that you’re under no illusion we know the majority of you are at it at every day and every time you’re discovered it will be reported.

    More and more people are now keeping a watch out for and discovering your illegal practices and writing about it, it’s only a matter of time before your wildlife persecution activities become full public knowledge and your Victorian era shooting estates are a thing of the past, good riddance to that I say !!!

  10. Three days on and my post seems to have been “moderated”

    “Mix up or otherwise these birds have been killed illegally, presumably by an irresponsible landowner or employee of same. Does the Herald do investigative journalism? There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to analyse and question the statements made by the SL&E representative.

    How about an analysis of all radio tagged raptors and where they have stopped transmitting? I think that would make for a very revealing article.

    Is the Herald Scotland up for it?”

    What happened to that great journalistic bastion “free speech”

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