Van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk at centre of police investigation into alleged raptor persecution

William van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk is at the centre of a police investigation into alleged raptor persecution, according to the Mail on Sunday:

Naturally, the Mail has focused on van Cutsem’s close connections to the royal family and of him being ‘frisked in his pyjamas’ during a night-time search of the estate nine days ago.

The article doesn’t provide any detail of what evidence the police have that justified a search (the police are not allowed to just turn up on privately-owned land to search it, they first have to have a reasonable suspicion of criminality) but a spokesperson for Norfolk Constabulary is quoted:

Officers from the Operation Randall rural crime team attended woodland close to the A1065 at Hilborough. Enquiries are ongoing.’

The Mail on Sunday article can be read here.

This isn’t the first time the van Cutsems have been investigated for alleged raptor persecution.

In 2007, William van Cutsem was interviewed along with Prince Harry into the alleged shooting of two hen harriers on a nature reserve bordering the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. No charges were brought (see here).

In 2016, a gamekeeper employed on the van Cutsem family’s Mossdale Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was caught on camera setting illegal pole traps on the estate’s grouse moor (see here). The gamekeeper escaped with a police caution after a procedural blunder by North Yorkshire Police, instead of facing a full blown prosecution, and the estate was forced to resign its membership from the Moorland Association (here).

William van Cutsem’s name also appeared during my research into the hatefully malicious astroturf group Campaign for the Protection of Moorland Communities (C4PMC), a shady anonymous outfit set up to smear and discredit any conservationist wanting an end to driven grouse shooting. Van Cutsem is named as a Director of the Moorland Communities Tradition Ltd, a business that was brought to my attention during that research and remains very much of interest.

I look forward to seeing how the investigation in Norfolk progresses.

UPDATE 10th May 2022: Illegally-set trap found on van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk (here)

UPDATE 11th May 2022: Police confirm bird of prey was caught in illegally-set trap on van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk (here)

UPDATE 12th May 2022: Covert footage published showing masked man with trapped goshawk on van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate (here)

UPDATE 16th May 2022: Mail on Sunday blames ‘vigilantes’ for police investigation into alleged wildlife crime on van Cutsem’s estate (here)

UPDATE 12th August 2022: GWCT disregards police investigation into alleged wildlife crime on van Cutsem’s Norfolk estate (here)

18 thoughts on “Van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk at centre of police investigation into alleged raptor persecution”

  1. Every day and throughout the day, I examine my emails for anything to do with the persecution of wildlife; the destruction of forests; the activities of multinational companies and banks involved in resource procurement, and its invariable concomitant contamination of the world environment; the mistreatment of tribal and other communities, due to the incursive misbehaviour of “developers”, sometimes leading to genocide; the state of the planet’s oceans and freshwater lakes and rivers; animal welfare issues with regard to pet ownership, farming, laboratory vivisection “research”, exotic meat trade, blood sports, trophy shooting. Of course, I am suitably interested and active with causes relating to human suffering in all its forms, and react appropriately.

    I have listed my universal ethical interest in all that can suffer pain and fear, along with the health of the Earth, and its ability to support Life as we know it. That state of mind is shared by a growing number of rational and compassionate people throughout the world, and the danger humanity faces from climate change has helped focus that concern. WHAT HAS MY STATEMENT OF DEEP CONCERN TO DO WITH THE KILLING OF BIRDS OF PREY AND OTHER CREATURES ON SHOOTING ESTATES IN THE UK? Well, I feel anger and embarrassment that such illegal slaughter has taken place, and that enforcement of the law has been tardy and ineffectual, along with a stigma on our legal system, that somehow, influence has been exerted by powerful interests making prosecution difficult, and any subsequent “punishment” trivial, when imprisonment should have been the recourse. Here we are in the UK with so many people supporting internationally acting charities to alleviate suffering of all forms of Life, we have a distasteful and contemptible stranglehold on what creature should live or die in our countryside. Those who occupy our upland areas seem to be immune to prosecution, and who inflict on wildlife, people who are exterminators and cruelly so. The truth is that in a well-run state, such a position should not exist, and that the whole of the UK landscape should be under a regime of constant attention as to its management. The hoary old excuse of “rural employment” would suffer if shooting estates were to be terminated, no longer holds water, as modern humane thinking and acting people are in a large majority on this issue, and see such powers as negative and anachronistic. More confrontation would be welcome on the governance of our rural environment and seascape, as they have hitherto been badly managed, with the connivance of our politicians. This recurrent appearance of gamekeepers accused of killing protected species, and sometimes the perverted “sport” of Badger baiting with dogs, reveals an area of human retardation requiring immediate attention, with exemplary prison sentences obligatory.

  2. [Ed: Thanks, Peter. That’s interesting, but I’ve removed the comment as the police investigation is apparently in a sensitive phase]

  3. How is Hugh van Cutsem, Chairman of the British Deer Society related or connected to this estate?

  4. It is encouraging that some Police forces are trying to uphold the law, regardless of who is involved. Are you reading this, Dorset Police?

  5. The case of the princes and the Hen harriers is fundamentally flawed . If a muffled shot was heard and then a bird fell to the ground this is so very wrong. Stand 2/300 hundred yards from a clay pigeon shoot you will see the clay break before you hear the shot. Light travels faster than sound

    1. Piffle.

      “Light travels faster than sound”

      But falling birds do not. From what height did the Hen Harrier fall? Were you there, did you see the Hen Harrier *before* it was shot? How far had it already fallen before the sound was heard? Do you know that figure, or are you just desperately trying to make something up to support the Royal Family’s bloody and environmentally devastating pastime?

    2. You’re comparing a bird shot in flight to a clay. Firstly, there can be little doubt when a clay has been hit – it falls, with very little air resistance, relatively quickly to the ground. A bird shot in flight takes much longer to fall, depending on it’s distance from the ground, making it very possible that a targeted bird could be seen falling after the shot is heard.

    3. Yes light does travel faster than sound.
      But a shot bird does not disintegrate like a clay, and therefore may not always die instantaneously, but sometimes is capable of flying on for a few more moments before it succumbs to it’s injuries and falls to the ground.
      So the fundamental flaw lies in your hypothesis of likening clay pigeons to Hen Harriers.

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