Investigative journalists discover more evidence of alleged raptor persecution on Queen’s Sandringham Estate

Investigative journalists from The Guardian newspaper have uncovered more evidence of alleged raptor persecution crimes, not previously reported, at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

They’ve also uncovered documents which reveal that the police have to seek the Queen’s permission before they are allowed to enter the estate and search for evidence if alleged wildlife crimes are suspected / have been reported.

Long-term blog readers will know that this royal estate has been at the centre of a number of police investigations into alleged raptor persecution, (e.g. see herehereherehere, here), including the most notorious incident back in 2007 where witnesses observed two hen harriers being shot over Dersingham Bog at the same time that Prince Harry, his mate William van Cutsem (whose Hilborough Estate is currently under police investigation for alleged raptor persecution), and an estate gamekeeper were out duck-shooting. No-one was charged, as with all the other reported incidents except one in 2005, where an estate gamekeeper was convicted for pole-trapping a tawny owl next to a pheasant pen (see here, page 3).

However, it now appears that at least two other raptor persecution incidents on the estate have been kept under wraps for years – a poisoned red kite found in 2006 and a dead Marsh harrier (cause of death not given) found on the estate border in 2007 – according to documents published on Friday by The Guardian – the article is well worth a read, here.

Why has it taken 16 years for these raptor persecution incidents to become public knowledge? And given the timings, wouldn’t it have been pertinent for them to have been in the public domain at the time that Prince Harry, his ‘high society’ mate van Cutsem, along with an estate gamekeeper, were all under police investigation into the alleged shooting of two hen harriers in 2007?

It’s no wonder ‘nothing was found’ during the police investigation into those alleged shootings, given that the police weren’t allowed on site until the following morning.

And surprise, surprise, none of the investigating authorities want to comment on any of these latest revelations. Too scared and too obsequious.

There is a follow-up article in today’s Guardian (here), including quotes from me about these very shady processes that amount to what I would call a massive cover-up.

Well done to journalists Sev Carrell, Rob Evans and David Pegg for having the balls to challenge this nonsense.

25 thoughts on “Investigative journalists discover more evidence of alleged raptor persecution on Queen’s Sandringham Estate”

  1. I have a serious dislike for the royal family for a variety of reasons, this being one of them. How I wish that the royal family would just disappear. What an archaic institution. It needs to go. No one should be above the law.

  2. If you think it’s almost impossible to prosecute gamekeepers with crimes against Raptors what chance prosecuting E2R??

  3. The RSPB really needs to have a long hard look at itself for still using royal patronage, when it becomes clearer by the day that the royal family are extracting the urine over conservation and wildlife issues.

    Are any members out there asking some questions of the organisation?

  4. “Norfolk police said that any allegations “on, or close to, the Sandringham estate are investigated in an open and transparent manner with the full cooperation of the Sandringham estate” ”

    i.e.
    police: “We’ve had reports a crime has taken place. May we please come round to do a search for evidence?”
    Sandringham: “What’s it about? A dead hen harrier? Of course, you have our full cooperation. Come round first thing in the morning, I’ll put the kettle on.”

  5. The strange thing is that The Queen is also Patron of the RSPB and has been all her Reign. If she has this apparrantly Limitless power and immunity over the forces of Law and Order, what influence might she attempt to utilise in that Organisation? I’m not suggesting for a minute she does, but any representatives she might or might not have in that organisation should be closely scrutinused just in case the prevailing attitudes of the Aristocracy towards wildlife crime are being clandestinely used.

  6. It is a joke that the Queen is Patron of RSPCA and RSPB. The Royals should be setting an example that all the hooray Henries then would hopefully follow.

  7. The RSP(of some)B is structurally nobbled by its royal patronage in the form of its ‘Royal’ charter or, to be more accurate, its failure to ditch or at the very least amend the ‘Royal’ charter. The key clause in the charter states: “The Society shall take no part in the question of the killing of game birds and legitimate sport of that character except when such practices have an impact on the Objects [of the Society]”. Will the RSPB move to review this clause – or indeed the rest of the charter – in light of the Guardian articles? Highly unlikely. And before anyone starts with the bogus argument that it is ‘too difficult to amend the charter’ I say putting a man on the moon was difficult, doing some long overdue admin. is not.

    Despite the undoubted good works that the RSPB does, I urge RSPB members to vote with their feet and cancel their membership, only to rejoin when this farce is sorted out.

    1. I too have some issues with the RSPB which regretfully prevent me from becoming a member. But personally I have found a position I feel content with – I chip in a few quid here and there to their “Bird of Prey Defenders” fund which is ring-fenced just for the Investigations side of things, and I also try to put time in as “eyes on the ground” in areas they (Investigations) are under-resourced. For me personally this is a good balance of saying “I can’t join because I don’t agree with x, y, z etc… but I also want the Investigations side to keep getting stronger”.

      1. I hear what you’re saying SM and your stance is a well reasoned and pragmatic one.

        I too was a RSPB member but left because of their failure to take a position on ‘game’ bird shooting due to the ridiculous charter. Therefore, for me, the charter issue still stops me putting my hand in my pocket. Investigations is indeed a valuable bit of the RSPB. But, what if RSPB ‘Investigations’ was called upon to undertake an investigation on a royal estate? How would the RSPB investigating its own patron play out? It is not difficult to see – and therefore call out – what a massive conflict of interest having the bird-killing-estate owning monarch – whose family and hangers-on have a significant penchant for killing wild birds for fun – as patron of a charity that is supposedly there to protect birds and the environment.

        I fear a significant drop in RSPB membership caused by the Guardian revelations will be the only think to effect change.

      2. The RSPB should really do separate supporter leaflets for ‘The Birds of Prey Defenders Fund’, I tried to get some for a stall we ran last year, but they don’t provide them. I also found out a few years ago that the RSPB has a deliberate policy of not making bird of prey persecution (especially graphic images) prominent on the stalls they run at festivals, in High Streets etc because ‘they’re too strong for the general public’. I think this is a massive mistake, over estimating peoples’ sensitivities and under estimating their intelligence is a common flaw in the conservation/environmental movement IMHO. Very occasionally the RSPB will go full out highlighting bird of prey slaughter in certain circumstances such as vegan festivals, but it should be their standard approach not the exception.

        1. Agree with you, Les. I’ve been saying the same for years, that the RSPB should be taking a hardline approach to raptor persecution, with hard-hitting adverts in newspapers, etc, detailing the wildlife crimes (dead raptors, trapped badgers, red squirrels, etc) that are the norm on shooting estates.

          Not only would it act as a major information channel, getting the message out to the many people that are unaware of what happens on shooting estates throughout the UK, but it could also act as an inportant revenue stream.

          I can’t help but believe that its “inaction” on this matter, is down to the constraints placed on it by the royal charter.

    2. Ps I do have to laugh at myself for taking these moral / ethical positions these days…I was once a member of BASC for 15+ years FFS!

      1. Spaghnum Morose

        You intrigue me! I find myself agreeing with almost everything you say – yet you obviously held very different views at one time. What changed the way you viewed so many issues relating to shooting? We need to harness it and build on your knowledge and experiences!

        1. Hi Lizzybusy
          Well it is only really intensive driven shooting & associated “management practices” that I am opposed to – not every form of shooting. Like many people within shooting / fieldsports (including some keepers) I knew intuitively that intensive driven shooting was / is wrong on so many levels but selfishly you stick with the script and don’t care much IF you personally are doing alright with it – in my case having free access to as much roughshooting / lamping / “vermin control” /ferreting, etc as I wanted and having a laugh and a good time going around with keepers i.e. playing soldiers at weekends and holidays. Over time I think my passion for those hobbies and my selfishness just faded and the need for good conscience took over…in other words I finally grew up (better late than never!)

  8. It is beyond comprehension that in the 21st century these spongers on the state can be allowed to be above the law. Unless there is a revolution, which in the UK seems unlikely, I doubt there will be any change in the foreseeable future.

  9. Well done to all involved in the investigations, more evidence if it were needed that there needs to be wholesale reform of hos this country is governed?

  10. I thought the Marsh Harrier was known about, or at least spoken about in hushed tones without any confirmation?

  11. According to the Palace, over 3000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as their Patron or President, including many involved with conservation – some of which being international – and some involved with hunting.

  12. Maybe, and possibly, with our new monarch, King Charles III, things will change due to his green credentials that are constantly being endorsed

    1. Aye, and Boris Johnson will suddenly start telling the truth!

      In the past week alone, the “environmentally aware and green” Charles must have flown the equivalent of about 2000 miles in the UK alone. I’m going to guess that he flew by plane into Scotland, then he flew to London, then flew back up to Scotland, and in between times he was using a helicopter to get around. And no doubt he’ll fly back to London.

      His equally “environmentally aware and green” son is just as bad.

      The flights to Aberdeenshire are perfectly acceptable, but everything else is just an extravagance that we are needlessly paying for.

      1. I was merely passing comment on the hope that raptor persecution on, the now, King’s Sandringham Estate would improve and that the persecution will hopefully stop. Nothing else.
        As I stated: ‘Maybe, and possibly’.
        My comments had nothing to do with the ex-PM and his truthfulness, or lack of. His green credentials didn’t exist, ever, for all his tub-thumping and rhetoric at COP26.
        But yes, I take your point.
        I agree with you on those raised. The deplorable use of flights here, there and everywhere. No doubt not one flight for all; which is standard protocol it seems. But the lesser Royals could have I’m sure. What type of plane was used I have no idea but obviously a lot of aviation fuel will have been burnt on all those journeys. Not green in any way I know. And not something the tax payer should be footing. I’m sure there could have been better logistical thinking on this matter to save so many flights.
        And there are still their journeys to all corners of the realm it seems also. Let’s hope they do better there

        1. And he used a private jet again to go to Northern Ireland, and presumably back to London!

          Despite his claims that he is incredibly green, which will undoubtedly be propagated by a servile mainstream media at every given opportunity (there’s bound to be a Countryfile special in the planning as I type!), this is [Ed: rest of comment deleted as libellous]

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