Ross-shire Massacre: 9 months on

KeystoneCopsIt’s been nine months since 22 raptors (16 red kites + 6 buzzards) were illegally killed in a mass poisoning incident near Conon Bridge, Ross-shire.

Still no word from Police Scotland on the name of the ‘illegally held substance’ that was used to kill these birds.

Still no arrests.

Still no charges.

Still no prosecution.

Still no justice.

Police Scotland’s handling of this investigation continues to astound….

You may remember, back in October, some senior officers from Police Scotland gave evidence on this case to the Parliamentary Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee (RACCE). The police were being questioned about their idiotic recent press release which had stated: “These birds were most likely not targeted deliberately but instead were the victims of pest control measures“.

We were particularly interested in what Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham had to say to the RACCE about this press release:

We put out information into the public domain that we thought was going to clarify what we thought our best assessment was, lay behind the intent of the acts that we’re investigating, and from everything that we have done, in combination with a number of other agencies who are active in this field AND WHO SUPPORTED THE PRESS RELEASE THAT WE PUT OUT [Emphasis by RPS], we wanted to say that it didn’t appear that the activity had sought to deliberately target the birds that had been killed“.

We were intrigued about who these “other agencies” were that had supposedly “supported the press release that we put out” because, to be blunt, we didn’t believe ACC Malcolm Graham’s claim.

So in October we encouraged blog readers to email ACC Graham to ask him for clarification on the identity of these “other agencies“. There was no response for six weeks. So last week we encouraged blog readers to consider writing to the Information Commissioner to put in a formal complaint about Police Scotland’s refusal to respond. That prompted the following letter from Police Scotland, sent on 11th December 2014:


ACC Graham has asked me to reply to your email on his behalf.

I can confirm that a number of organisations both governmental and non-governmental have assisted the police in this enquiry from the outset. Significantly, both the RSPB Investigations Team and the SSPCA Special Investigations Unit have been involved and offered professional opinions at various times based on their experience of the the killing of birds of prey and the use and impact of poisons.

When drafting the press release these considered opinions along with those given by others were taken in to consideration. The press release reflected the belief at this time that the birds of prey were not the intended target of the illegal poison. However, as stated in the press release the illegal killing of the 16 poisoned birds remains a crime and therefore subject to a criminal investigation.


Sergeant Andrew Mavin

Scottish Wildlife Crime Coordinator

Specialist Crime Division

Police Scotland

Glasgow West End Police Office

609-611 Dumbarton Road


G11 6HY

An interesting response, eh? We already know that RSPB Scotland didn’t support the press release (see here), and neither did Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse (see here). The SSPCA didn’t respond to our queries so we don’t know whether they supported the release or not but we could take an educated guess.

While we wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that Police Scotland gave misleading evidence to a Parliamentary Committee, we would suggest that their evidence (specifically, their claim that “other agencies who supported the press release that we put out“) deserves further scrutiny and we’ll be writing to the RACCE about this.

Meanwhile, we await with interest to see whether the new Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, responds to MSP Dave Thompson’s request for a review of the police handling of this investigation.

Previous blogs on the Ross-shire Massacre here

7 thoughts on “Ross-shire Massacre: 9 months on”

  1. Police procedures on questioning suspects relies on lies leading to more lies and in the end loosing control of the false script… Nice to see the tables turned… Keep up the pressure.. Thanks for the excellent work running this blog!

  2. It’s beginning to smell worse than the keepers STINK PITS, the whole rotten saga stinks to high heaven. What confidence can anyone have in the disgraceful way the police have handled this case from day one. Time for the new Environment Minister to step in and demand action from the chief constable.

  3. Words Mean Things!! I sometimes wonder if that occurs to people who release nonsense statements and blurt out answers to committees when they’re put on the spot. They must realise their every word is going to come under scrutiny, surely?

    It’s also frustrating to see that the Police are continuing in their attempts to lessen the severity of this crime by touting the figure of 16 poisoned birds, rather than the actual number of 22.

  4. Reassuring to see that in the finest traditions ……shxt runs downhill

    The Assistant Chief Constable drops a clanger and a wee sergeant is left to face the baying crowd

    You can fool some of the people , etc etc

    The police have been exposed yet again by their poor handling of this incident and made things worse by making a ludicrous press release.

    It highlights that currently crimes involving wildlife are not being investigated properly and the cuts that police face for 2015 are only going to make things worse…….meantime wildlife will continue to be persecuted on an industrial scale.

    When will things change and the same mistakes that are obviously being made ever change

    Come on Scotland do something to protect your heritage

    1. Ridiculous that a mere sergeant is the one responsible for this. It needs to be at least a DCI, if not a full Chief Super.

  5. RPS, I am simply outraged that you have compared Police Scotland’s attempts to uncover the illegal goings-on in the Conon Bridge massacre, to that of the shenanigans of the Keystone Cops. Everyone knows that the Keystone Cops were far more professional in their investigative procedures, and they would have had someone in the dock by now!

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