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)