Mail on Sunday blames ‘vigilantes’ for police investigation into alleged wildlife crime on Van Cutsem’s estate

The police investigation of alleged raptor persecution and associated wildlife crime at William van Cutsem’s Hilborough Estate in Norfolk is being kept in the public eye thanks to the Mail on Sunday (MOS).

However, instead of claiming that [Police] ‘Officers found no evidence of wrong-doing‘ [on van Cutsem’s estate] which is what the MOS published the previous weekend (here), this time they’re focusing on the ‘animal rights vigilantes’ who had secretly filmed the alleged offences on the estate and then passed on their footage to the police.

The full article can be read here.

It’s classic tabloid nonsense, designed to take the focus off the alleged offences and undermine the credibility of the people who discovered those alleged offences.

The article quotes ‘a source close to Mr van Cutsem‘ throughout, but conveniently doesn’t name that source. Quotes from this unidentified source include:

A source close to Mr van Cutsem condemned HIT as a vigilante group which had set up cameras on private land without his permission, saying there were questions about its relationship with police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds‘.


William is baffled the police didn’t say anything or give him any information and he had to read about it [on their Twitter page],’ said the source.


‘What also is interesting is how close HIT works with the RSPB. It would be good to understand how a mainstream charity is working with a shady group. Police said nothing.’


The source added: ‘William doesn’t want to say anything else at this stage, but needless to say it’s bonkers that the first he finds out about details was not from the police but from the HIT story’. 

The same weekend this happened, a neighbouring estate had four traps vandalised and a buzzard was found in another one, which was then released by the estate owner. 

These were all reported to the police. I’m also surprised the RSPB, who attended the raid, seem to be getting information from a group with a long history of shady entrapments.

Interesting then that ‘the source’ didn’t apparently raise any concerns about what had been filmed, just who had filmed it and whether they had permission to do so.

This sort of commentary is a tried and tested routine, and one we’ve seen over and over again from the likes of You Forgot the Birds and C4PMC, even down to the slagging off of the RSPB. This is not quality journalism, it’s just laughable bollocks, designed to deflect attention from the alleged crimes filmed on this estate.

I particularly enjoyed the MOS’s sub-heading in this article:

They [that’ll be the so-called vigilantes] released a video purporting to show a Goshawk stuck in a trap on the estate‘.

Er, I think it was a bit more than showing ‘a goshawk stuck in a trap’! What the video actually showed was a masked man removing a goshawk from an illegally-set trap (baited with live pigeons) purportedly filmed on van Cutsem’s estate. The man was then filmed carrying the goshawk away, which is also an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (the goshawk should have been immediately released).

Thanks for the laugh, MOS, and especially for the crap reporting which will just draw this police investigation to the attention of an even larger audience.

I look forward to reading an update from Norfolk Police in due course.

14 thoughts on “Mail on Sunday blames ‘vigilantes’ for police investigation into alleged wildlife crime on Van Cutsem’s estate”

  1. The ceaseless, and dishonest, campaigning against the RSPB run by apologists for the shooting industry and access-denying multi-millionaire landowners is one of the things that convinces me to keep up my donations!

  2. I’m glad to say that the majority of those who read the article are at the very least anti-blood sports, and haven’t fallen for the Mail’s crass defence of van Cutsem.

  3. When it gets close to the heart of the Windsors, newspapers like the Daily Mail start the mud-slinging. The reporters who do the dirty work always live in the hope that ‘something special’ will rub off on them… honesty and integrity are strangers to their ilk.

  4. What a load of bollocks as you say awful biased reporting. It is of course perfectly possible that the police involved RSPB in the raid ( for their undoubted expertise) rather than HIT. Given the opportunity I’m sure that there are folk out there who would gladly have W van C screaming like a stuck pig but unfortunately on this side of the fence we stick to both the law and the moral high ground. These people may be the aristocracy but if [Ed: rest of comment deleted, Paul!]

  5. “‘William is baffled the police didn’t say anything or give him any information and he had to read about it [on their Twitter page],’ said the source.”..The usual entitled [sic] response from our betters/landowners who feel that they are above the normal rules of the justice system. The police will have very good reasons for not giving out information about an investigation, while that investigation is active – not least because he may be a suspect in the actual case.

  6. When I worked in Thetford Forest in the early 80s the first pair of Goshawk bred successfully for several years under strict secrecy from the few FC foresters who knew about them. They produced young every year but there were no more breeding pairs. My clear assumption was that the young left the forest and were then killed on the intensive sporting estates around and about. So it was with some pleasure that I’ve followed the eventual increase in the population – and the amazing tour of E Anglia undertaken by a BTO tagged Goshawk from the forest – and equal sadness that persecution clearly hasn’t ended – and I’m afraid, having been deeply immersed in the countryside for over 30 years I don’t for a moment believe in the ‘rotten apple’ theory. And, equally, am concerned over the success of the right wing media in diverting attention from the real issues – look at exctinction rebellion and insulate Britain wher the media successfully shifted the focus off the real issue onto the inconvenience of the protests – not something they ever applied to the appalling performance of First Great western trains, for example.

  7. Hmm. The RSPB and the Police are ‘working with a shady group’ eh? The evidence reported appears to show quite clearly a serious wildlife crime being committed on van Cutsem’s estate. xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  8. I am really tickled by the preoccupation with pyjamas. Should they have waited for a point in time to disturb him from his bed when he wasn’t wearing them? I wonder if the had the family coat of arms stiched on them or a monogram – this is important! Obviously know it’s just this papers way of trying to convey the sense of an offence against the true values of their brand of “englishness”. An shady characters? Would that not be the people making money from business models that need to kill Goshawks (and the rest) to be viable? Good on you HIT and RSPB, please keep at it.

    1. Me too! I can’t get it out of my head that he was in bed in woodland close to the A1065 when he was woken up in his pyjamas.

  9. Well done HIT. Looks like the release of the goshawk/masked wildlife criminal footage got the Hate Mail on Sunday all riled up enough to spout their usual their shite. As you say Ruth, funny how the Hate Mail didn’t seem to dwell on the criminal activity the video clearly showed. If it was, say, footage of the RNLI rescuing ‘illegal’ immigrants in the Channel I suspect the Hate Mail would have been a bit more forthcoming with their condemnation of the ‘criminals’.

  10. Its the Mail Group, Britain’s answer to Russia’s Tass. Supporting the government of the day (as long as it’s Tory) and the ruling classes.

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