Two gamekeepers expelled from BASC after wildlife crime convictions

The British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) has expelled two of its members following convictions for wildlife crimes.

The two expelled members are gamekeeper Hilton Prest from Cheshire who was convicted in December 2021 and gamekeeper Shane Leech from Suffolk who was convicted in November 2021.

Unusually, BASC posted an announcement about the expulsions on its website last week:

I say ‘unusually’ because although I’m aware of previous expulsions from game-shooting organisations following wildlife crime convictions, these are not common and when they do happen we tend to see vague statements sometime later, such as, ‘The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has expelled five members in recent years‘, but there’s rarely any evidence provided by which to authenticate the claim.

I’d argue that this rare open & transparent statement from BASC is as a result of long-term campaigning by conservationists to get the shooting organisations to back up their claims of having ‘zero tolerance of raptor persecution’. I also see it as a sign that the shooting organisations are feeling the increasing pressure imposed by campaigners, forcing the shooting industry to show Government policy-makers that it can self-regulate and thus avoid the inevitable enforced regulation that is hurtling towards them in the near distance, following on the heels of the forthcoming regulation in Scotland.

Good work, everybody, and especially to the multi-agency teams (Suffolk & Cheshire Police, RSPB Investigations, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, Crown Prosecution Service) that secured the convictions of these two gamekeepers after months of painstaking work.

17 thoughts on “Two gamekeepers expelled from BASC after wildlife crime convictions”

  1. Well, that’s progress… only a little bit, but progress nonetheless. Fair play to the BASC for kicking the criminals out – nd good toread that as a result they may lose their ability to (legally) shoot! Serves them right. Let’s hope that BASC and other shooting organisations make this their standard response to wildlife crime convictions.

  2. In my experience very few keepers persecute without instruction from the boss, be that agent or owner, you can bet your last few pounds on the fact that such folk are NOT expelled, only the cannon fodder keepers are.

  3. A step in the right direction certainly but still a long way to go and clear evidence we have to keep up the pressure and the naming and shaming of both gamekeepers and who they are woking for because at the end of the day they are only following instructions of their employer’s surely?

  4. If the BASC were to make too much of a song and dance about these things then I suspect lots of it’s members wouldn’t bother renewing their subs. Especially keepers. Very few keepers on the big grouse moors that I used to know well had any time for the BASC, they regarded it a soft organisation too close to the RSPB and the like (I suppose because they sometimes talked to each other). Regards the 3rd party insurance thing…is it law these days? I honestly don’t know. It never used to be – it is irrelevant for a keeper at work on his own Estate anyway (as the Estate will have their own insurance to cover them), and was only neccessary if somebody whose land you were shooting on stipulated it. I accept experience will vary around the country but it never came up for me or anyone I knew. To me and likely many others, membership of BASC was more a thing about wanting to ‘belong’ to something, rather than being critically or even legally important.

  5. I’m sure that I will not be alone in thinking that the last sentence needs a little light editing as follows – “Good work, everybody, and especially to Raptor Persecution UK for keeping up the pressure and the multi-agency teams (Suffolk & Cheshire Police, RSPB Investigations, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, Crown Prosecution Service) that secured the convictions of these two gamekeepers after months of painstaking work.

    1. This from Unlock.org, and applies to England and Wales:

      Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 prohibits a person from possession of any type of firearm if you have been given a custodial sentence when convicted of a criminal offence.

      If you have received a custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence) of between 3 months and 3 years then you are prohibited for a period of 5 years from the date you are released.

      If you have received a custodial sentence of 3 years or more then you are prohibited for life, from the date of release.

      The prohibition may be lifted on application to the Crown Court.

      (Neither Prest nor Leech received custodial sentences.)

      All previous convictions must be declared on the application form. It is an offence under Section 28A(7) of the Firearms Acts 1968-1997 to make a false declaration when answering this question. You are not permitted to withhold previous convictions by virtue of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1975 (Exceptions) Order 1975…

      If your application is refused, you will receive details of the reasons for the refusal and a full refund of your application fee.

      (But note this… !)

      A Freedom of Information request by the BBC to the Isle of Man Constabulary revealed that nearly 40% of all registered gun and crossbow owners on the Isle of Man has a criminal record.

      (There are no known such figures available for England and Wales, as far as I know)

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