Infamous Kildrummy Estate sold to new owners

The Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire is infamous for a number of reasons.

Firstly, its gamekeeper became the UK’s first (and so far, the only gamekeeper) to receive a custodial sentence for raptor persecution in 2014 after his conviction on four counts, including the illegal killing of a trapped goshawk which he clubbed to death on the estate in 2012 (see here and here).

Secondly, a vicarious liability prosecution against the gamekeeper’s supervisor/employer wasn’t possible because the police were unable to establish the identity of the management hierarchy because the details of land ownership were concealed in an offshore holding (see here, here and here).

Today it’s been reported on various websites that Kildrummy Estate has been sold for a cool £11 million and the new owners, Americans Chris & Camille Bently, are described as being supporters of ‘animal rights’. For example, see this article on the Insider website, which incidentally also discusses the criminal conviction of the former Kildrummy estate gamekeeper but mistakenly reports he was sentenced to ‘four years for laying poisoned bait’ – that’s wishful thinking, it was only four months and we’re not aware of poisoned baits being laid on this estate.

Blog readers may be interested in reading the sales particulars for Kildrummy Estate, which provide a fascinating insight in to a location that has previously been shrouded in secrecy.

Download the sales document here: Kildrummy Estate sales particulars June 2020

Good luck to the Bentlys – let’s hope their vision for this estate is one centred on rewilding and conservation and not exploitation and criminality.

UPDATE: This blog post was picked up by The Herald 6 July 2020 here

18 thoughts on “Infamous Kildrummy Estate sold to new owners”

  1. Anders Polvsen, now Scotland’s largest landowner is doing some good things with his estates while still earning money from them. We must hope that these two are at least as good, maybe no hunting at all?
    So why then do I feel uncomfortable about so much of Scotland being sold off to foreign buyers. Even though I’m not Scottish. Am I alone in this?
    Really hope that Langholm comes off.

    1. Whilst I totally agree in hoping Langholm is successful, I doubt if there are many ‘homegrown’ purchasers who would have the available cash and interest to go down this road, are there? This couple now have the chance to be real ‘trendsetters’ for the future of landscape and habitat such as this. All future generations depend on the decisions they, and others in positions of such responsibility, make today. I pray they make the right ones.

      1. Mairi, amen to that. I suppose what I should have said is that since this land once belonged to the Scottish people, I would very much like to see the government help them to get it back. With the writing on the wall
        for the driven grouse industry, land prices may well come down and wouldn’t it be lovely to see more Carrifrans. When you think of the money that governments can find to support the 1%, is £11 million so much? And it would be taxpayers money anyway. As it is, it is just a swop of one billionaire for another.

        But yes, you could say the same for so many countries, and if they truly are buying it to love it and bring it back to life, I would look forward to visiting.

      2. Yes – gives great hope to hear an ‘ ardent environmentalist ‘ and animal rights campaigner who has financially supported various sound projects such as saving bats and turtles, and has interest in Scotland, has bought this. Polvsen has poured money into the estate I visited and immensely impressive restoration- no plastics where at all possible as well.
        So much better than some bunch of London bankers intent on killing for fun

  2. Dear Rurh and co

    I have had a response from one of the MSPs I have emailed to about the Blue Hare amendment in the wildlife bill to be voted on next week. There is a letter from Edward Mountain that can be accessed from the reply given by his secretary. If you would like to see his reply respond to this and I will forward it to you. I am not very IT literate so would rather not use twitter etc. My wife and I live in Newtonmore and have emailed all of out 8 MSPs to ask for them to support Alison Johnstones amendment next week. I have copied and pasted the message below that was sent to all eight MSPs. Edward Mountain’s office is the first to reply.

    Dear Mr Halcro Johnstone,

    We are asking that you support the bill next week to ban the continued mass extermination of a real iconic wild Scottish species. Please support the banning of the mass culling of the Mountain Hares on the grouse shooting moors on the highlands. Last November we saw at first hand how this barbaric practice is carried out. We were out hillwalking climbing a Corbett near Tomintoul when we were passed by keepers driving ATVs. As we descended the hill we came across the keepers shooting the hares en masse with shotguns. At times the keepers were dragging the animals from their shallow forms ( burrows ) by hand and then hurling them to the ground before shooting them. This is environmental destruction on a mass scale and is totally unacceptable in modern Scotland that is hopefully moving towards  independence soon. 

    As the ecologist the late Adam Watson  recently noted the Mountain Hare is in serious decline in our mountains and this is almost solely due to the antiquated practices of killing them by keepers in the moronic belief that hares may infect grouse via a tick. The mass industrialised shooting of grouse is not sustainable. Hen Harriers, Goshawks, Peregrines, Golden Eagles, Stoats Weasels and Foxes are all heavily persecuted to maintain artificially high numbers of grouse. Protecting Mountain Hares is a small way of addressing the balance, the other species outlined above will also need more protection as the govt looks to move forward on the management of grouse shooting acting upon the recommendations of the recent Werrity report.

    As our representative in Holyrood we implore you to support Alison Johnstone’s amendment next week so we never again have to witness the barbaric slaughter of Mountain Hares on the Scottish uplands.

    Regards, XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX, Newtonmore, Inverness-shire

  3. I agree, good luck to them both
    Ad an aside and from the photo, he looks a bit like me. Sadly, that is the only thing we have in common………..

  4. “Release of 6,000 pheasants which provided 15 days of driven sport with bags ranging from 100 to 200 birds.”

    Wonder what happened to the other 3000?

  5. The sales document does make interesting reading, and one can draw a multitude of possible outcomes for the estate in the hands of its new owners.
    Of note is that the estate comprises both lowland pheasant shooting and moorland grouse shooting.
    However the literature would seem to indicate that no shooting, either grouse or pheasant shooting has actually taken place in the last 3 years.
    However the sales literature goes on to state that there is potential to both increase grouse numbers and re-establish the pheasant shoot.
    On a positive note the grouse shooting appeared to be confined to walk up shooting rather than driven shooting. And there lies a potential issue.
    If the new owners have purchased the estate as a purely business venture, will there be a temptation to lease out the shoots to shooting syndicates, whose only interest will be game bird numbers, and all the associated problems for wildlife which go with this?
    If the new owners are not resident or rarely visit, will they be oblivious to how the estate is actually managed in their absence? They could potentially have very high conservation and animal welfare ethics – but if they are not aware or never made aware of what is happening on a day to day basis, then those ethics may not be helpful to the native wildlife?
    The cynic in me makes me think that our shooting and estate management industry may spin the new owners a well crafted yarn about the traditional British values of grouse and pheasant shooting, and the potential economic benefits this could bring. Will they then feel they are doing the”right thing” by leasing out the land and shooting rights?
    Maybe I am totally wrong, but “profit” and “wildlife conservation” are often uneasy bedfellows!!

  6. And while Kildrummy’s birds of prey (if they were conscious of these things) wait with there talons anxiously crossed wondering what type of millionaire is going to determine whether they thrive or die, the people of Scotland and the people of the UK (well, those of us that care about these things ) are just as powerless as a buzzard sitting on a fencepost. We will just have to wait to see whether they turn out to be law abiding and responsible owners…or not, and us commoner plebs can do nothing to steer it either way. Ah…the puzzle freedom and democracy!

    One thing is for certain, some well known (english) Agents / “grouse guru’s” (a sickly euphemism) will be hastening to slip their business cards through the couple’s door. I hope my cynicism is proven wrong, but it seldom is. Fingers crossed.

  7. I haven,t entered the ” here , here and here” of ownership of the estate but the fact that ownership was concealed in an offshore holding beggars belief ! For the police and the Scottish Govt. not having access to who owns chunks of Scotland is ludicrous ! God knows if drug money paid for the previous owners or what happened that this transaction took place in an underhand and apparently ” lawful ” manner is utterly ridiculous ! Glad to see that , hopefully , it is now in good hands but surely questions should be put to the powers to be as to how any land ownership is not recorded and accountable by legal means . This appears to be a big loophole that needs addressing .

    1. Hi David,

      Have a read of the middle ‘here’ – it’s Andy Wightman’s take on the ownership of this estate with some pertinent comments underneath about the need for transparency of beneficial ownership, not least for law enforcement purposes!

    2. “For the police and the Scottish Govt. not having access to who owns chunks of Scotland is ludicrous ! ”

      Yes, Ludicrous and just about beyond belief.

      It is an intolerable situation and it is vital that all other land that is owned in this manner is made public PDQ.

      Why has this situation been tolerated ?

      I do not know if the SG have the powers to outlaw this type of land ownership. If they do have remedial powers and have not used them then they better have a comprehensive and compelling reason.

      If the SG do not have remedial powers then they should have been screaming to the rooftops in order to put the facts into the public domain.

  8. This looks really good. It’s not impossible, but extremely unlikely that this couple will see any form of shooting being compatible with wildlife conservation. Surely this must be a sign that the old hunting, fishing, shooting model for estates is being displaced by a new one for rewilding and ecotourism/business. Let’s face it if you were anybody of reasonable mind what would you prefer a burnt over ‘moor’ to produce lots of medicated grouse or to develop a proper nature reserve? South of the border there’s been a very significant upsurge in the number of landowners who want to have beavers doing their habitat creation and flood reduction stuff on their land. Times are definitely changing. It’s just a pity that so far there are no estates in the north of England that have went for grouse shooting to rewilding yet.

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