Millden Estate says it will appeal General Licence restriction imposed after evidence of raptor persecution

Earlier this week, NatureScot announced it had imposed a three-year General Licence restriction on Millden Estate in the Angus Glens, after three shot buzzards were found in bags outside gamekeepers’ cottages on the estate in 2019 (see here and here).

In an article subsequently published by The Courier this week (here), an unnamed spokesperson for Millden Estate said they would appeal the decision.

Quotes from Millden Estate cited in The Courier article include:

The estate does not condone or tolerate any illegal activity relating to the welfare of animals or wildlife“,


We are extremely disappointed by this decision and intend to appeal


The estate does not condone or tolerate any illegal activity relating to the welfare of animals or wildlife and it has robust and comprehensive systems in place to ensure compliance with the law.

We were shocked at the time to learn of all allegations of wildlife crime against an employee of the estate. He was subject to an extensive investigation by the police and the crown and dealt with.

The employee involved was suspended by the estate with immediate effect and resigned a few days later when the police investigation was still at an early stage.

At no stage was the estate itself the focus of the investigation. We consider that the estate is being unfairly penalised for events not within its control and for which it bore no responsibility.”

The last three sentences from the estate are mostly what I would describe as being a red herring because they relate to the conviction of Millden Estate gamekeeper Rhys Davies for badger-baiting and other sadistic animal welfare offences, which took place at locations away from Millden Estate (although he kept his mutilated and scarred fighting dogs kennelled at Millden; injuries that the Crown Office described as ‘obvious injuries’ but which apparently went unnoticed by Davies’ gamekeeper colleagues and bosses for months).

Two of gamekeeper Rhys Davies’ obviously mutilated dogs, tethered to what appears to be a work vehicle. Photo: SSPCA

Oh, and the estate WAS the focus of the investigation into gamekeeper Rhys Davies as the search warrant included a provision to search various sites on Millden Estate looking for evidence of badger sett disturbance (I’m not aware that any was found there). And Davies’ tied cottage and associated outbuildings on the estate were also searched, under warrant, where a number of serious firearms offences were uncovered, specifically, an unsecured Benelli shotgun was found propped up against a wall near the front door; two unsecured rifles were also found: a Tikka .243 rifle on the sofa and a CZ rifle in the hall cupboard next to the open gun cabinet;  and an assortment of unsecured ammunition was found including 23 bullets in a pot on the floor, five in a carrier bag behind the front door and one on top of a bed, according to a statement by the Crown Office.

So why do I think the latest remarks from Millden Estate to the journalist from The Courier are a red herring? Well, simply because the General Licence restriction hasn’t been imposed on Millden Estate for Davies’ depraved offences – it has absolutely nothing to do with him or his crimes. The General Licence restriction has been imposed after the discovery of three shot buzzards shoved inside bags outside two gamekeepers’ houses (found during the SSPCA/Police raid at Millden when they were investigating Davies) as well as ‘incidents relating to trapping offences’, for which Davies, nor anybody else, has been prosecuted.

Tellingly, the Millden Estate spokesperson fails to mention any of this detail, but instead focuses on how Davies has been ‘dealt with’ [convicted] and is no longer employed at Millden. Irrelevant, mate.

Of course, Millden Estate is entitled to appeal NatureScot’s decision to impose a General Licence restriction, as laid out in the framework for restrictions on NatureScot’s website (here). Although to be honest it’s all a bit absurd as the estate has already had one opportunity to appeal, when NatureScot first notified Millden of its intention to restrict the General Licence. Now it gets another bite of the cherry.

But so be it. Other estates with a restriction have also previously appealed, and all have failed. For example, Raeshaw Estate lost a judicial review in 2017 here; Leadhills Estate lost an appeal in 2019 here (and this is really worth reading- it’s hilariously inept); and Leadhills Estate lost another appeal in 2021 after a second GL restriction was imposed here; Lochan Estate in Strathbraan lost its appeal in 2022 here; Invercauld Estate lost its appeal in 2022 here; and Moy Estate also lost its appeal in 2022 here).

Millden Estate must lodge its appeal in writing within 14 days of receiving its General Licence restriction notice from NatureScot. That will trigger a suspension of the restriction notice (ridiculous, I know!) until such time as NatureScot has undertaken the appeal process, which it tries to complete within four weeks.

15 thoughts on “Millden Estate says it will appeal General Licence restriction imposed after evidence of raptor persecution”

  1. Whenever there is an opportunity to muddy waters then these estates will always use it — or hire others and do it by proxy. They know, given the forces at work, that they have little to fear from Institutional Bodies and understand that the key to force regulatory and policing entities into action is public opinion … which is why they spend so much time, effort and money trying to control it.

  2. This makes me fume but, of course, to be expected. I’m sure they will win the appeal despite the pitiful state of the dogs. Terribly cruelty inflicted on innocent dogs and badgers. I’d love to put them in a fight they can’t escape with the same rules.

    [Ed: Thanks Tania, but the appeal has nothing to do with the condition of the dogs. It’s about the discovery of three shot buzzards on the estate & alleged trapping offences]

  3. All so predictable, with one of it’s main aim is to carry on as normal until the appeal is heard and reported by NatureScot.

  4. That doesn’t say much for the team ethos of “Team #Millden”, does it? So, the convicted badger baiter & former beatkeeper has now become useful to them again – as their token bad-apple. i.e. any dodgy stuff was him and him alone “gone rogue”. So nothing else to see here, move along please. But then again, one day – if he feels he was unfairly made a scapegoat – he might tell someone the inside story of the Millden brand of ‘moorland management’. Unlikely maybe, but you never know.

  5. [Ed: comment deleted as libellous. For info, vicarious liability can only be a consideration if the person who committed the crime(s) has first been identified. In this case, the person/people who shot those buzzards has not been identified, thus there isn’t a criminal prosecution but just a General Licence restriction imposed on the estate]

  6. Interesting that the estate makes no mention of the bags of buzzards found outside other gamekeepers houses. At the very least I would have expected an explanation along the lines that they had been planted. Maybe they’re just keeping their powder dry for the time-being.
    I see that this is another case where a gun has been kept handy by an outside door – in case of urgent need perhaps.

  7. The problem with rotten apples in a barrel is that if you don’t clear them out they infect all the others. How many ‘dodgy’ gamekeepers can one estate contain without anyone knowing they’re there?

          1. Fair enough. There was no intent on my part to detract from the points made by this thread, and I apologise if I’ve done that.

            [Ed: Not at all!]

  8. I agree with your comments, and would suggest the whole purpose of the press release given to the The Courier is to try and divert the publics attention away from the evidence which indicates xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx It is an age old tactic, and fortunately one that will probably not work, but I expect will appeal to those with a misplaced belief, and who either fail to understand or deliberately choose to not to accept that there are some involved in game shooting who are criminals.
    It is rather pathetic that the Milden estate appear to be playing the “victim card”, when they would probably do the shooting industry and themselves a better service by xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx, and will actively work with the police to ensure those responsible for any criminal activity are prosecuted and brought to justice. This just makes all the claims about zero tolerance towards raptor persecution nothing but hollow words.

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