Millden Estate, the (now former) employer of depraved gamekeeper Rhys Owen Davies, sentenced to jail earlier this month for his crimes including animal cruelty and some pretty serious firearms offences (see here), is managed for gamebird shooting by a sporting agency called BH Sporting Ltd, which is owned solely by Nicholas Baikie.
Shooting estates under the management of Mr Baikie are the subject of many discussions amongst raptor workers and his name often comes up: “Oh, it’s a Baikie estate” is heard with almost as much frequency as, “Oh, it’s an Osborne estate”. I might come back to this in a future blog.
Anyway, these two individuals are associated with the management of many, many shooting estates across Scotland and England since their time at the notorious Leadhills Estate in the early 2000s. Between 2003-2006 Osborne was listed as a Director of Leadhills Sporting Ltd, a company who held the sporting rights at Leadhills. Baikie is reported to have been one of his gamekeepers before apparently training as a land agent under Osborne (according to this court document) and then setting up his own consultancy on grouse moor management, including taking on Millden Estate in the Angus Glens, which has been on Baikie’s books now for many years.
For someone in such high demand in the grouse-shooting world, Baikie keeps a relatively low online profile. Although here’s a photo from the Perthshire Picture Agency, taken in the Angus Glens in 2014. Baikie (on the left) is wearing the Millden Estate tweed and is standing next to a Millden Estate gamekeeper, also in estate tweed and the estate’s uniform of lilac shirt and orange tie.
Now, according to the website of British Game Assurance (formerly the British Game Alliance but rebranded in the last year), BH Sporting is one of a number of sporting agents that have:
‘COMMITTED TO A GOAL OF OFFERING SPORTING DAYS EXCLUSIVELY ON SHOOTS AND ESTATES THAT ARE MEMBERS OF THE BRITISH GAME ASSURANCE FROM THE START OF THE 2023 SEASON. THIS WILL ENSURE THAT THE PROMOTED VENUES ARE ALL PARTICIPATING IN THE INDEPENDENTLY AUDITED ASSURANCE SCHEME, DEMONSTRATING THAT THE SHOOTING SECTOR IS ADHERING TO BEST PRACTICE AT ALL TIMES‘.
Shurely shome mishtake?
How can BH Sporting (or its sole director, Nick Baikie), be certain that any estate on which it offers shooting ‘is adhering to best practice at all times’?
This is the sporting agency that failed to notice the ‘obvious injuries‘ (quote from the Crown Office) to five of gamekeeper Davies’ dogs. Here’s a photo of two of those mutilated dogs, tied to what looks like an estate vehicle. Pretty hard to miss, I’d say:
This is also the sporting agency that failed to notice the very serious and reckless firearms offences committed by Davies at his tied cottage on Millden Estate.
This is also the sporting agency that failed to notice the three bags of dead raptors reportedly found on Millden Estate during a joint SSPCA/Police Scotland raid in October 2019 and apparently containing at least three shot buzzards.
This is also the sporting agency that failed to notice the ‘horrendous catalogue‘ of wildlife crimes uncovered over many years on Millden Estate (for which Millden Estate has repeatedly denied responsibility and for which nobody has ever been prosecuted).
Funny, all these things this sporting agency failed to notice and yet Nick Baikie was reportedly invited to show around Professor Werritty and co during the Govt-commissioned Werritty Review into grouse moor management, where Millden Estate was held as an example of ‘best practice’. Whose idea was that??!
And now we’re supposed to accept that as from the 2023 shooting season, BH Sporting will only offer shooting on estates that have demonstrated ‘best practice’? What due diligence has the British Game Alliance done on this?
Is Millden Estate registered as a British Game Assurance member? We don’t know, because the names of all the BGA-endorsed shoots were removed from the BGA website several years ago, resulting in criticism of the BGA for its lack of transparency and accuracy (here), two fairly important commodities when you’re asking the public to trust your brand, I’d have thought. But maybe that’s just me.
I’m sure it won’t be the last criticism of the BGA. In fact I know it won’t be the last, because there’s another sporting agent listed on the BGA website whose presence undermines the entire credibility of the BGA and what it claims to represent. More soon.