With ‘friends’ like this, who needs enemies?

When Wild Justice announced last week that it was launching a new fund to support police officers investigating the illegal persecution of birds of prey in the UK (see here), not everybody welcomed the initiative.

That was hardly a surprise. Criticism was fully expected from those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, i.e. those who benefit the most from the difficulties faced by police forces in bringing the raptor-killing criminals to justice. The existence of this new fund will hopefully increase the opportunities available to the police to secure sufficient evidence against these criminals to proceed with prosecutions, so of course there’d be some who would try to undermine it from the outset.

However, one particularly vocal critic emerged, on twitter and on this blog, who hid his identity behind the pseudonym ‘EXWCO’ [ex-wildlife crime officer, for those unfamiliar with the lingo] whilst making thinly-veiled accusations against Wild Justice as well as against Police Supt Nick Lyall (Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, RPPDG) and the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) as both had been named in Wild Justice’s original announcement. For those who missed ‘EXWCO’s’ comments on this blog, please see here.

To be honest, it was difficult to understand exactly what ‘EXWCO’ was objecting to – his criticisms were a bit all over the place but what was clear was that he disliked Wild Justice (fair enough), that he thought that the NWCU’s impartiality would be ‘compromised’ if it administered the new fund (because the money had come from Wild Justice – no, me neither) and that Nick Lyall’s credibility was undermined because he’d given a supportive quote (no, me neither). As has been pointed out by blog reader Gareth Jones on the earlier post, the NFU and other organisations fund / lend /sponsor equipment for a number of police forces so why should the Wild Justice fund be treated differently?

Yesterday, ‘EXWCO’ decided to reveal his identity to the public at large – it’s a guy called Pete Charleston, a former police wildlife crime officer and someone who has held other related roles since retiring from the police. He’s perhaps best known for his work with the Bat Conservation Trust and his role as Chair of the LINK Wildlife Crime Group, which is how I know him as I represent Wild Justice in that partnership and is why I’m so surprised that he’s chosen to behave as he has in response to Wild Justice’s new fund. I’m pleased to see that he has now resigned from his leadership position at LINK because, in my opinion, it’s clearly untenable in light of his online behaviour in recent days.

[Pete Charleston, photo by Charlie Moores]

As well as setting up his twitter account, Pete has also set up his own blog and written an introductory post which takes a few pot shots at RPUK, Wild Justice and Nick Lyall – see here.

It’s good to see he has also referenced his direct involvement in game shooting. That explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Just a couple of points. Pete has done his best (but failed in my opinion) to cast himself as an impartial observer and has questioned the impartiality of the NWCU and the credibility of Nick Lyall. He’s got some brass neck to be raising questions of credibility when you see what he sent around to a number of colleagues a few days ago:

So he sends around an email attempting to distance himself as being the author of the new ‘EXWCO’ twitter account, but a few days later he admits on his very own blog that he created the account:

And for even more evidence of the shiniest brass neck in brass neck land, have a look at this tweet, sent from Pete’s account and addressed to the Countryside Alliance, BASC, NWCU, RPUK and Wild Justice:

Integrity and credibility? Yeah, right.

What a shame.

And all because Wild Justice chose to establish a fund to help police officers bring wildlife criminals to justice.

20 thoughts on “With ‘friends’ like this, who needs enemies?”

  1. That’s a very good point about the funding from the likes of the NFU etc. and why indeed should Wild Justice be treated differently when supporting the police?. What this tells me is that highly organised responses to raptor persecution now coupled with some real money spent well has got the bird killers very rattled. After all, it is they that are used to sloshing the dosh (much of it public money that adds insult to injury) about to get their way. Well done WJ and RPUK for a robust stance against the like’s of EXWCO’s claptrap.

    1. It frightens me that people with sympathy to to shooting, with the established connection that business has to wildlife crime ( gamekeepers being responsible for ~70% of raptor crime) can hold the position of WCO for a police force.

      It’s like putting Phil and Nige ( GMPs finest off Early Doors, in charge of pub licensing )

  2. Fortunately not all ex-WCO’s have gone to the dark side. I wonder what the Bat Conservation Trust thinks of being associated with someone with his mind set? I must ask some of my batty mates.

    1. I’d imagine they’re fairly appalled about the content and the way in which he has expressed himself. For the record let me be clear that I absolutely do not agree that the WJ funding is bad, but to give him the benefit of some doubt/devil’s advocate or however you want to put it, all charities are currently under considerable pressure due to Coronavirus. It’s certainly something he references in that blog excerpt.
      Charity shops are closed and I’d imagine that most people are guarding their finances very closely and are not making donations as readily. About the only charity that is doing well, isn’t even a charity, but an under-funded branch of the government which should actually be adequately funded from our taxes!
      It seems to me that he’s maybe jealous that WJ have cash to spend on this at this time, perhaps the stress of dealing 24-7 with a chronic drop in direct funding to ‘his’ charity has addled his wits? But then again, he’s a shooter, and they’re all being told that RPUK, Mark Avery and WJ are out to get them (and seemingly that Chris Packham genuinely is the devil), so perhaps a combination of stress and exposure to abject idiocy is to blame.

  3. [Ed: comment deleted. Comment’s on Pete’s behaviour and the accusations he’s made are welcome; those on his appearance are not]

  4. I think you have probably said it all and if a were to comment fully you would undoubtedly have to use lots of the censorship Xs. He has certainly made a complete prat of himself.

  5. Seriously I hope the BCT disassociate themselves from this person. If he helps to support the shooting organisations, that use legalise tactics to prevent damming evidence from being admitted in prosecution of wildlife crime, How can he be involved in bat conservation. Nefarious tactics have always been used by unscrupulous property developers to get rid of bats, of course nothing has been proven, and the fact is the bat roost just failed. Another example of ‘people going about their lawful business’.

  6. It occurs to me that some wildlife conservation charities are getting infiltrated with the “huntin, shootin” set. I can think of another charity mentioned in the past in this blog that has had that happen.

    1. So are you saying that anyone who hunts or shoots cannot be involved and passionate about Conservation? That is a pretty arrogant attitude, and only furthers the divide between protectionist organizations and anyone who takes part in any kind of hunting. And before everyone here jumps to conclusions, no, I have absolutely no interest in shooting, but I’ve been passionate about Conservation , and was promoting it long before it became a bandwagon. The best Conservation initiatives often involve sustainable well managed harvesting of natural resources in many ways, including hunting.

      A prime example of this might be the inclusion of limited walked up grouse shooting as a part of the Langholm community buy out ; part of the long term management plan. The Wild Justice team have all publicly said they support walked up grouse shooting when properly managed. I would hope, therefore, that they will encourage this to be included in the plan. That would truly be following Conservation principles.

        1. Aye, the old ‘shagging-for-virginity’ theory writ large, strewth…

          Mother Nature is quite capable of looking after herself and does not need men with big guns to thrive. Of course the main problem in the UK is that the forebears of the big gun brigade (aka the Victorian death cult) ruthlessly exterminated most of our predators so dear old Mother Nature has a job on her hands until the return of many more apex predators to restore a fully functioning, balanced, ecosystem, rather than the denuded theme parks which we are ‘blessed’ with today. This is compounded by the fact that the Victorian death cult with catchy new handles – e.g. the wonderful oxymoron of the ‘British Association for Shooting and Conservation’ – is still firmly in business as predators (aka wildlife) remain ruthlessly persecuted – both legally and illegally – by self-proclaimed ‘guardians of the countryside’ who spout such tired claptrap that shooters shoot wildlife because they are conservationists. What utter bollocks.

      1. As a meat eater I can’t & don’t object to legal shooting for food, but on a Nature Reserve? (the clue is in the name)

    2. I notice you didn’t include ‘fishing’ in your post – it was always my impression – in London – where I lived 50 years ago, that angling clubs and organisations were the most passionate advocates of conservation and of combating the rampant pollution in the Thames and it’s tributaries. Strange it was indeed to see recently trout and other coarse fish in the River Wandle which was no more than an open sewer in my youth. And a Kingfisher across the road from Merton ‘bus garage!

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