Email correspondence between Chris Loder MP & Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner re: poisoned eagle

After a long delay and several reminder emails, I’ve finally received a response to my Freedom of Information request from the office of the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), David Sidwick.

If you recall, in early March I’d asked for copies of all correspondence between the PCC and Chris Loder MP in relation to the (mis)handling of the police investigation into the poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on a shooting estate in North Dorset in January 2022.

I was interested in finding out whether Chris Loder MP had interfered with / influenced Dorset Police’s decision to pull the plug on the investigation before a search had even taken place, given his outspoken objections to the investigation when it was still active.

You may also recall I’d asked for the same information in another Freedom of Information request to Dorset Police, which they have refused to answer. Their explanation for this refusal had zero credibility so I’ve asked for a formal review of their decision – I’m awaiting a response to that request.

The FoI response to me from the PCC’s office is here:

So there was correspondence between the two ‘good chums‘, as expected, and you can see Chris Loder’s exasperation at not receiving information to which he appeared to feel entitled.

I note with interest David Sidwick’s assurance to Chris Loder that he will receive ” a full briefing” after the investigation has closed. Given that Dorset Police closed the investigation (prematurely) on 29th March, exactly one month ago, I wonder whether that briefing to Chris Loder has now been provided? This was beyond the dates/scope of my original FoI request but it will be covered by Chris Packham’s later FoI request so I look forward to seeing what that briefing says.

Meanwhile, back to the FoI response sent to me from the PCC’s office, above. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have picked up that there appears to be some correspondence ‘missing’ from the bundle I’ve been sent:

That very first email from David Sidwick to Chris Loder (dated 15th February) appears to be a response to correspondence from Loder (Sidwick’s opening words are, ‘As requested…’) but Loder’s ‘request’ has not been provided in full in my FoI bundle. There are parts of Loder’s request incorporated in Sidwick’s reply, but the original, full email from Loder is missing.

In the same email, Sidwick also includes a line that appears to be taken from Loder’s (missing) email:

Presumably from Loder: “Could you also help with the earlier question about the name of the rural crime team? Rural Crime Team / Rural Crime Wildlife & Heritage Team

Response from Sidwick: “RCT is the form preferred and the long version will be dropped“.

Nowhere in this bundle is there a copy of the “earlier question” from Loder to Sidwick about the rebranding of the Rural Crime Team.

I have written back to the PCC’s office and asked them to check for these missing pieces of correspondence.

12 thoughts on “Email correspondence between Chris Loder MP & Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner re: poisoned eagle”

  1. An MP feeling entitled to something? never! I remember enjoying replying ‘I’m sorry, but under I’m not able to supply you with that information.’ to many an elected official who felt they were entitled to information by virtue of their post.

    On a less frivilous note, couple of years back I attended a briefing from the Rural Crime Team of another Police Force, and their focus was very much on serious and organised crime moving into the rural environment – expensive equipment thefts, fuel and livestock thefts etc but also things like hare coursing, dog fighting, badger baiting. I asked about other wildlife crimes and the reply was that they did investigate them, but they were lower priority

  2. And we still don’t know why Dorset police dropped the investigation and who it was that made that decision.

    After emailing Dorset police (29 March) to ask those pertinent questions I received an email telling me the response time would be 14 days. When that expired I submitted a complaint. Just received a reply telling me I don’t have the right to ask the questions because I’m not directly affected. Apart from the fact that as a member of the public I think I do have a right to ask the questions why tell me they would answer within 14 days.
    All designed to disempower the public. Not really surprised but considerably frustrated.

  3. Why would Mr Loder ask such specific questions about an ongoing police investigation into the death of a white tailed eagle?
    Why does he need this information?
    Who is he going to brief, should he be supplied with answers?

    I think it is very unusual for an MP to involve themselves in an ongoing police investigation, especially when they are not representing a victim who is seeking answers from the police or CPS regarding that investigation, which may have failed the victims expectations.
    Even more unusual when the specific nature of the questions are considered.
    Questions which appear to be seeking early disclosure of police evidence?

    “Hats off” to you Ruth.
    The whole issue raises the question as to whether raptor persecution is more than just “wilful blindness” by certain sections of the political establishment??

    I have other questions and observations which relate to the last email, and the suggestion that a private telephone conversation about the matter was offered. I will keep these observations to myself, rather than risk you have to carefully edit my comments.

    What really pisses me off, is that I live in a country supposedly governed by the rule of law.
    Laws which should be applied equally across all sectors of society.
    Raptor persecution has been identified as a national wildlife crime priority, and therefore something which should be thoroughly investigated when crimes are suspected, so that wildlife criminals are brought to justice.
    And perhaps even more importantly, a completely innocent, yet majestic and sentient bird of prey has died a horrible and probably agonising death. For what purpose? Other than selfish machinations of certain humans who value wildlife with such contempt.

    Thank you for exposing just what is going on.
    Sadly, getting wildlife justice is going to be a long and hard battle.

    1. …but let’s battle on ! Thanks to Ruth and all the team trying to get Justice and the existing Laws upheld.

    2. Yes, John L, that offer of a phone call when he was ‘in his car’ did start the alarm bells ringing! I am beginning to think that Mr Loder might have been a little more central to the investigation, hence his interest in the matter. These are questions that need to be answered Ruth!. Not that you will get a straight answer!

  4. It is with deepest regret that no matter how much, or how hard we chase for answers in this case and any other case involving birds of prey and shooting estates, we will never get the answers we rightly deserve.
    As long as politicians are above the law, and don’t have to answer to the laws they set, the birds of prey will sadly be un important in their eyes, and I expect they wil become extinct again, and regardless of the hard work put in by the conservation groups who have re introduced these amazing creatures into our countryside, the rich will always find a way to stay rich, even if that includes the destruction of birds of prey.
    I heard recently that Scotland will start to kill white tailed sea eagles because a couple of lambs have been killed, and even though there is no evidence to prove it was eagles, they have been targeted by politicians, and rich folk, I suspect its more to do with grouse shooting than lambs.
    At the end of the day, eagles are native to Britain, and if lambs are on the menu then it is up to farmers to keep them safe, and if we didn’t strip the sea of fish then their normal diet would be readily available to the Eagles.
    I am saddened by what is going on with birds of prey, they seem to be persecuted in every direction by humans, and until the law is made to include politicians, and rich shooting estates, we will see the decline in these amazing birds.
    I live in Norfolk, we recently saw a white tailed sea Eagle reintroduction scheme squashed because of the site proposed being next to Sandringham, and near the shooting estate, the sea eagles had chosen the spot by returning there several times, for long periods of time, with sea nearby, and near perfect nesting areas would be absolutely perfect, but all of a sudden from absolutely nowhere the site decided that they would not entertain the use of the site, even though funds have been raised so it would not cost them a penny, and wold in fact bring needed funding to the whole area, but no they gave a story about concentrating on some soil restoration project, which I might add will have absolutely no impact on nor would it be impacted by the presence of the Eagles.
    Just about everyone involved in raising funds or getting ready to help with the project, and anyone who lives nearby have said it is purely because they have been leaned on by Sandringham, and the shooting estate, and have been forced to say no.
    Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk would be an amazing site, after all if its good enough for country file to have as a location for a lot of its filming, I’m 100% confident it would be great for the Eagles, and the income raised by all of the tourists, and it will bring much needed work to the area.
    And that doesn’t even go into how good it would be for the Eagles, one of the Eagles released on the Isle of Wight has visited the site, and spent a long time at the site, and I expect if there was a pair they would probably have set up home here.
    Let’s hope that one day the truth will come out, and that the laws will be written in such a way that nobody is above it, not even the politicians, and shooting estates, and why are politicians even suggesting a kull of sea eagles in Scotland?
    I imagine that a sea Eagle could carry off a lamb, and I don’t think they would kill just for fun, we heard stories like this about red kites in Buckinghamshire, and farmers were adamant that kites had been randomly killing sheep and lamb’s, and had been picking up small dogs and killing them.
    All stories I’m afraid.
    B james.

    1. Yes, all stories! It is about time that pressure – and I mean real pressure – was out on the Royal Family to come out in favour of conservation. One of the first of these would be the RSPB dropping the ‘Royal’ from its title. The dark side take no prisoners – why should we?

  5. John L poses some very relevant questions in his opening paragraph above. What strikes me as odd is that Mr Loder seems to have more than a passing personal interest in the details of the case than one might expect from someone who doesn’t think that Police time and resources should be spent on this sort of thing.

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