Ian Blackford latest MP to embolden calls for a sea eagle cull

Ian Blackford MP (Scottish National Party) is the latest politician with a vested interest to whip up some anti-raptor rhetoric by accusing white-tailed eagles of “slaughtering” his lambs, emboldening those who have been calling for an eagle cull.

It follows recent outbursts from Conservative MP Chris Loder (here and here) and the SNP’s Angus MacNeil (here).

Blackford’s hysteria was published in the Sunday Times at the weekend, as follows:

With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the majestic white-tailed eagle reintroduced to Britain from Norway is the country’s largest bird of prey.

But calls for a cull of the giant bird have grown after it was blamed for the deaths of lambs raised by Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader.

Three of nearly 200 breeding pairs of the bird, also known as sea eagles, live near to the politician’s croft on the Isle of Skye, and are said to have killed up to ten of his 60 lambs in the past month.

It comes less than three years after a non-native mink killed his three-year-old ducks — named Mrs McGregor, Mrs Campbell, Mrs Morrison and Mrs McFarlane.

Last year conservationists failed in a bid to introduce 60 white-tailed eagles, likened to “flying barn doors”, to Norfolk after objections from landowners.

Blackford, who runs the smallholding with his wife, Anne, in the northwest of the island, watched from a distance recently during one of the attacks.

“Coming across a dead lamb slaughtered by an eagle it’s not a sight that you want to see. It’s an upsetting one,” he said.

“When all your efforts have gone into the lambing season, you take a pride in looking after your flock. To lose even a small number of lambs is soul destroying.”

Angus MacNeil, his neighbouring SNP MP in the Western Isles, favours a targeted cull of the eagles first reintroduced to Britain in the 1970s and again in the 1990s and early 2000s, with most in the Highlands.

Condemning “monoculture conservationists who cannot see beyond one species”, MacNeil said: “Sea eagles eat puffins and other small birds like Mars bars yet they’re heavily protected.

“A livestock law introduced last November says the owners of dogs that attack livestock can be fined £40,000 or sent to prison, but if you’re a conservationist protecting sea eagles who do the same, you’ll get a big desk in Edinburgh and a promotion.”

David Colthart, an Argyll hill farmer who represents National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) on a sea eagle stakeholder panel, suffered 135 unaccounted-for losses out of several hundred lambs last year.

There are four breeding pairs of sea eagles in his area and he says that lambs are an easy target for birds feeding their chicks.

“Many farmers and crofters have found the sea eagle reintroduction very challenging,” he said.

NatureScot, the public body responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage, has no plans to allow the killing of the magnificent birds, which emit a yelping cry which is made up of 15-30 short “yaps”.

It said: “We understand the concerns of farmers and crofters, and continue to work closely with them, and a range of stakeholders at the local and national level, to offer management support . . . and to trial management techniques which can help reduce these negative impacts.”

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens MSP, said the return of sea eagles had been “a great success story”, with efforts by the government and conservation charities to help farmers mitigate their impact.

“If we’re to combat the nature and climate emergencies, then sustainable agriculture and nature restoration must learn to work together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Benedict Macdonald, the conservationist and television wildlife director, has made more calls for lynxes to return to Scotland. In a new book, Macdonald argues that the species, last seen about 1,300 years ago, would bring ecological and financial benefits by controlling deer and foxes. He also defends wild boar as critical to woodland wildlife as nature’s oldest rotational farmers, churning soil and encouraging plant growth.

NFUS is opposed to the reintroduction of lynxes, which has been previously proposed unsuccessfully for Kielder, an English village three miles from the Scottish border. It says they have been responsible for thousands of sheep deaths in Norway. “The Norwegians told us that to reintroduce predators into our country would be an absolute catastrophe,” Colthart said.

ENDS

I find it interesting that Blackford claimed ‘up to ten’ of his lambs had been ‘slaughtered’ by eagles – how many is ‘up to ten‘? Surely he can count? Or is it a case of him seeing a sea eagle consuming an already dead lamb and he’s assuming the eagle has killed it, rather than acknowledging that eagles will readily eat carrion?

If he’s quick, he can apply to join NatureScot’s Sea Eagle Management Scheme which offers support for adapting livestock management and for trialling prevention measures (see here). The closing date for support in 2023 is 31st July 2022.

Dorset Police continues its damage limitation exercise re: its botched investigation into the poisoned eagle

Dorset Police is still desperately undertaking a damage limitation exercise in relation to its botched investigation into the poisoning of a white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in January.

The following article appeared in the Dorset Echo yesterday, reproduced here:

DORSET Police said it has “never been in any doubt” the poisoning of an “extremely rare” white tailed eagle is a “serious offence”.

An investigation was launched in February after the bird had been found dead in North Dorset.

Despite finding high levels of rat poison brodifacoum in the eagle, named G461, Dorset Police dropped the investigation, a decision which “baffled” the RSPB.

Dorset Police said tests were “inconclusive” and it was not possible to confirm if a criminal offence had been committed.

Now, after large criticism and a Freedom of Information request revealed correspondence between West Dorset MP Chris Loder, who reportedly said the investigation should not be a priority, and Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick, a specialist investigator has been brought in by police.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “We understand that concern has been expressed as to whether more could have been done in respect of the investigation into the death of the white-tailed sea eagle.

“Therefore, in the interests of transparency, it was important for a senior detective to review the investigation, seeking expertise from the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme and liaising with a specialist prosecutor from the CPS to ascertain if the evidential threshold for prosecution is met. We hope this will give confidence in decisions made.

“It has never been in any doubt for Dorset Police that if poisoned deliberately, this is a serious offence as the sea eagle is protected by the law.

“We have always been keen to secure a prosecution if at all possible and have been working with a range of partners to try and achieve this.

“We have increased the number of officers with knowledge of wildlife crime offences and are working with our partners to ensure we are able to utilise our different powers, expertise and resources to their best effect.

“We will of course reflect on any learning in respect of the initial or future investigations.”

The spokesperson added the force was always open to new information and hoped it could give “further transparency” to future decisions.

Correspondence between Mr Loder and Mr Sidwick showed the latter saying the pair needed to get their “ducks in the row on this one”.

In a statement on the PCC’s website, he said suggestions the investigation was politically impeded were “bizarre and entirely without merit”.

He added: “It is a plain and simple fact that the team continues to do what they have always done, which is to tackle all aspects of rural, wildlife and heritage-related crime in Dorset.”

Answering what was meant by getting “ducks in a row”, Mr Sidwick said: “All this meant was that was there was a need a for a mutual understanding about the independence of Dorset Police to carry out investigations as they see fit.”

The eagle was released as part of a reintroduction project by Forestry England in a bid to bring the breed back to the country after an absence of over 240 years, by releasing up to 60 birds over five years.

ENDS

It’s a nice try by Dorset Police, but, as I’ve said previously, asking a senior officer from the same police force to review the investigation is effectively just Dorset Police marking its own homework. Had it been a review undertaken by a senior officer from another force it might have been more credible, although of course that would depend on the integrity of that force/officer. As regular blog readers will be only too aware, there is huge disparity between how different police forces and different officers tackle wildlife crime investigations. Some are fantastic, some are not.

But anyway, the ‘review’ undertaken by the senior officer from Dorset Police has already been done according to comments made by Dorset Police Chief Scott Chilton in a Facebook live chat almost three weeks ago, and that officer had determined that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘no outstanding lines of enquiry’ to progress the case. Well of course, if you fail to conduct a search you’re not going to find any evidence, are you? It’s simply bonkers.

And increasing the size of the force’s rural crime team is utterly pointless if investigations are going to be closed down prematurely. Dorset Police could employ 3,000 wildlife crime officers but if they’re not allowed to undertake a search to look for evidence when an eagle has been found poisoned with 7 x the lethal dose, then what’s the point?

Besides, they don’t need 3,000 wildlife crime officers – they had one (Claire Dinsdale) who was brilliantly committed and effective and who was leading on the poisoned eagle investigation until senior officers pulled the plug and Claire left on long-term sick leave. They only need to employ a few like Claire (and Dorset Police does have some good officers in its rural crime team), and then support them in their investigations, and they’d get results.

And as for claiming ‘transparency’, good grief. Dorset Police continues to refuse to respond to Freedom of Information requests and has now been reported to the Information Commissioner for multiple breaches of the Freedom of Information Act.

If it wants to regain public trust and confidence, Dorset Police can start by explaining the real reason the poisoned eagle investigation was dropped (because this fundamental question still hasn’t been answered). And then it could highlight the ongoing investigation (running since 2021) into alleged raptor poisoning, on the very same estate where the poisoned white-tailed eagle was found(!!) and tell us whether anyone is being charged.

It can also provide an update on the toxicology results of the dead buzzard and red kite, picked up on another shooting estate in early March (see here), and the dead buzzard found on another estate in late April (here).

There is clearly a raptor persecution problem in Dorset, and Dorset Police needs the public onside to help detect these incidents, and we need Dorset Police to do its job properly and try and bring these criminals to the courts. Nobody is suggesting this is easy – we’re all well aware of the difficulties involved, but the least we should expect is that the police will take every opportunity to undertake a robust and thorough investigation, and not to drop it when a local MP kicks off on social media with ridiculous and outdated anti-eagle hysteria.

Well done to local Dorset Echo reporter Ben Williets for tracking this case and keeping it in the news.

Watch Dorset’s poisoned eagle fiasco on BBC’s Countryfile

Well done to the BBC’s Countryfile programme last Sunday for doing a 12-minute feature about the poisoning of the white-tailed eagle on an unnamed shooting estate in Dorset in January, and Dorset Police’s fiasco of an investigation which was brought to an abrupt halt when the police decided, astonishingly, that they ‘didn’t have sufficient evidence’ to execute a search warrant on the estate. This decision was made shortly after local MP Chris Loder argued on Twitter that the Police shouldn’t be investigating it and that eagles weren’t welcome in Dorset anyway.

Countryfile isn’t generally renowned for its hard-hitting investigations but I’ve got to say I was pleased with what they produced. Sure, a lot of material was left on the cutting room floor and they studiously removed all the discussion about the scale of illegal raptor persecution in the UK and the ingrained raptor-killing culture amongst some of the game-shooting industry, who still refer to these protected species as ‘vermin’, but I think for millions of viewers, who generally aren’t a specialised audience, this piece would still have been an eye-opener.

I’ve spoken to a few people since it aired who didn’t even know that eagles could now be found in southern England, let alone that they were being poisoned. They do now.

I was also impressed that they managed to get Chris Loder MP in front of a camera and the Assistant Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Rachel Farrell. Remember this is the police force that has repeatedly refused to respond to Freedom of Information requests on this matter. Personally, I don’t think either of them gave convincing explanations that there wasn’t any undue political pressure placed on the police to close down the investigation (asking a senior officer from the same force to effectively ‘mark the Police’s own homework’ doesn’t cut much ice with me), but you can draw your own conclusions.

I think a lot of credit needs to go to Countryfile’s researcher James Agyepong-Parsons, a former journalist from the ENDS Report and the instigator for Countryfile running this piece. He was meticulous in ensuring that the facts of this case were accurately presented, and Charlotte Smith did a brilliant job in pressing for answers.

It’s now available to watch on BBC iPlayer for the next 11 months (here – starts at 09.50 min).

There’s still much more to come out about this case, including the name of the estate where the eagle was found poisoned. It hasn’t yet been made public because there is another, separate, ongoing investigation into alleged raptor persecution that I understand is nearing a charging decision. Nobody wants to name the estate for fear of giving Dorset Police any excuse to drop this other case. We shouldn’t have to be concerned about that but such is the loss of confidence in Dorset Police that nobody is taking any chances.

BBC’s Countryfile to feature #EagleGate

Tomorrow’s edition of Countryfile will include a feature on the continued illegal killing of birds of prey in the UK, focusing on the recent poisonings of at least two white-tailed eagles in southern England (the one in Dorset and the one in West Sussex).

Filming took place last week and lovely presenter Charlotte Smith interviewed a number of people including Paul Morton (representing Birds of Poole Harbour) and me (representing Wild Justice) as we enjoyed a boat trip along the Wareham Channel looking for eagles, ospreys, marsh harriers and peregrines.

They also managed to bag an interview with Chris Loder MP, the local politician who didn’t want Dorset Police to investigate the eagle poisoning and I believe there’ll be contributions (probably denials and abuse) from Tim Bonner (Countryside Alliance) and perhaps statements from Dorset Police and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick.

I’m hoping they asked Chris Loder MP what he thought David Sidwick meant when he told Loder: ‘You and I need to get our ducks in the row on this one‘ while discussing the murky police investigation into the poisoned eagle in Dorset.

I’ve no idea how the final edit will be presented, this is the BBC after all and they’ll want to be seen as being scrupulously impartial, which is fair enough.

I’m just delighted that they’ve chosen to feature the raptor persecution issue at all, and that six million viewers will learn that even though this is the 21st Century, eagles and many other raptor species are still being deliberately poisoned/trapped/shot in this country, predominantly by members of the game-shooting industry. No matter which part of the interviews the editors choose to show in the final cut, that is the message that the viewers will remember and it’s the most important message of all.

Countryfile airs on Sunday 12th June 2022 on BBC 1 at 7pm and will be available on iPlayer for 12 months.

Poisoned eagle investigation: “You and I need to get our ducks in the row on this one” – Dorset PCC tells Chris Loder MP

Regular blog readers will know that I’ve been chasing up correspondence between the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), David Sidwick, and Dorset MP Chris Loder, in relation to the poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in north Dorset in January 2022.

For new blog readers, this is the investigation that Dorset Police chose to close, prematurely, having refused to conduct a search of the estate for any evidence of criminality.

The decision to close the investigation has been described as ‘completely baffling‘ by the RSPB, who up until that point had been helping with the investigation. The decision also coincided with the Force’s award-winning wildlife crime officer going on long-term sick leave with stress, a re-branding of the Force’s wildlife crime team to remove the word ‘wildlife’, and with an astonishing outburst on Twitter by Chris Loder MP, who had criticised Dorset Police for spending time and resources on the investigation and who argued that eagles ‘weren’t welcome’ in Dorset. It’s clear from Loder’s entry on the Westminster Parliamentary Register of Interests that his electoral campaign had received significant financial support from at least one large Dorset estate where the landowners have links to the game-shooting industry and the Countryside Alliance.

Unsurprisingly, there were suspicions that undue political pressure had been put on to Dorset Police, resulting in the Force’s ridiculous decision to halt the investigation in mid-flow, so I submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests to Dorset Police and the Dorset PCC to try and establish exactly who had said what, to whom, and when.

My FoI request to the Dorset PCC was made on 4th March 2022. After a long period of silence (and thus a breach of the Freedom of Information Act), the PCC finally responded and sent me copies of some correspondence between PCC David Sidwick and Chris Loder MP about this poisoned eagle.

However, on examining the correspondence (here) it was obvious to me that some correspondence was ‘missing’, so I wrote back and asked for any ‘missing’ correspondence to be provided.

It turns out that there was indeed some ‘missing’ correspondence, and that has now been provided to me (or at least some of it has – I suspect there’s more, as I’ll explain below).

The PCC has sent me three emails that were ‘missing’ from the first batch.

The first ‘missing’ email was this one, from Chris Loder MP to PCC David Sidwick, dated 15th February 2022 at 06.27hrs:

The first line of this email is significant.

Dave, The Guardian will cover EagleGate tomorrow‘.

Why is this significant? Well, because according to the PCC, this is supposedly the very first piece of correspondence between Loder and Sidwick about this poisoned eagle, and yet Loder describes it as ‘EagleGate‘, which suggests to me that there had been earlier correspondence about it, otherwise Sidwick wouldn’t have known what Loder was on about.

The second ‘missing’ email was sent by Loder to Sidwick on the same day, as a follow-on to his first email. Loder sent this email to Sidwick at 08.19hrs:

The third ‘missing’ email was a response by Sidwick to Loder, sent on the same day at 08.40hrs:

I think you and I need to get our ducks in the row on this one.

I will be in the car from 9.30“.

It couldn’t be clearer to me that there was some level of collusion going on between Sidwick and Loder and that we haven’t been told the full extent of it.

I have written back to the PCC to ask whether that first ‘missing’ email was actually the very first time Loder and Sidwick had corresponded about the poisoned eagle investigation, because starting his email with the phrase ‘EagleGate‘, without offering Sidwick any explanation about what that phrase meant, and Sidwick not asking Loder for an explanation of what he meant by the phrase ‘EagleGate‘, just isn’t credible. They both clearly knew what ‘EagleGate‘ meant, which means they had discussed this topic prior to that first email from Loder on 15th February 2022.

There’s more to come on this.

For previous blogs on this case, please see here

Dorset Police’s generic FoI response on poisoned eagle investigation is inaccurate and unsatisfactory

Earlier this morning I mentioned (here) that yesterday, Dorset Police had finally got around to responding to some Freedom of Information requests made to them by members of the public about the premature closing of the investigation into the poisoned white-tailed eagle found on a shooting estate in January 2022.

I said that the responses that I’d seen (the ones that had been forwarded to me by blog readers – thank you) seemed to be a cut and paste job, just repeating the rhetoric that the investigation was ‘full and proportionate’ (no, it was neither of these things) and that the post mortem results were ‘inconclusive’ (no, the pm report revealed the eagle’s liver contained 7 x the lethal dose of the rodenticide Brodifacoum, which can only be a result of (a) mis-use of the rodenticide or (b) deliberate abuse of the rodenticide. Either way, these are both offences).

I thought it’d be useful to publish the generic response so you can see how Dorset Police is dodging specific questions and at one point, denying that political interference was even a prospect (er, even though we all read MP Chris Loder’s tweets, suggesting the police shouldn’t be investigating this crime!). This is highlighted in red below:

I’m looking forward to receiving Dorset Police’s response to my request for a review of their decision to refuse my FoI original request made on 4th March 2022 (that response is now two weeks overdue), and also a response to my most recent FoI request to Dorset Police, which was due yesterday:

Premature closure of poisoned eagle investigation was ‘proportionate’ claims Dorset Chief Constable

Yesterday evening Dorset Police held an hour-long live web chat on Facebook offering the public an opportunity to put questions to Chief Constable Scott Chilton and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Sidwick.

Many thanks to all those who posed questions about Dorset Police’s unfathomable decision to prematurely close the investigation into the death of the white-tailed eagle found poisoned on an unnamed shooting estate in January this year.

To their credit, the Chief Constable and the PCC took two questions on this subject but I’m afraid their answers were unconvincing and simply a repeat of the damage limitation exercise they undertook last month (here).

The Chief Constable maintained that the decision to close the investigation without first conducting a search of the estate to look for evidence of potential criminality was ‘proportionate’. He also said that following complaints, he’d asked a senior detective to review the case and he, too, had determined that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘no outstanding lines of enquiry’ to progress the case. Well of course, if you fail to conduct a search you’re not going to find any evidence, are you? It’s simply bonkers.

Both the Chief Constable and the PCC were adamant that undue political interference did not take place. “Absolutely not true“, said Chief Constable Chilton, and “No credibility to that whatsoever“, said PCC David Sidwick.

You can watch a recording of the chat here. The two questions about wildlife crime and the poisoned eagle are at 28.35 and 33.17 mins.

[The poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in Dorset in January 2022. Photo by Dorset Police]

Yesterday also saw the release of a number of FoI responses from Dorset Police (although not mine – that’s still way overdue) and the ones that some blog readers have shared with me seem to be a cut and paste job, just repeating this line:

As a result of the sea eagle being found dead on land in the North Dorset area, our team has carried out a full and proportionate investigation under Section 1 of the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981 in conjunction with Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, the RSPB and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to identify any offences and perpetrators who may be responsible‘.

But that’s just not true. The RSPB has questioned the decision to close the investigation without undertaking the pre-planned investigation, and called the decision ‘completely baffling’ (here).

There’s still much, much more to come out about this case. For reasons that will become clear, I need to wait until the end of the week to publish some of it.

For a full list of previous blogs on this case please see here and scroll to the bottom.

Your opportunity to question Dorset Police Chief Constable on poisoned eagle case & breaches of FoI law

Here’s your opportunity to ask questions of Dorset Police Chief Constable Scott Chilton and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner David Sidwick about the Force’s failure to fully investigate the circumstances of a poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in January this year (see here).

The police investigation was closed prematurely, without even a search of the estate. This coincided with the Force’s award-winning wildlife crime officer going on long-term sick leave and, reportedly, being told that if/when she returned she’d no longer be leading the wildlife crime team (now rebranded as the Rural Team).

Both Dorset Police and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner are also in breach of the Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to requests for information about their communication with local Conservative MP Chris ‘eagles aren’t welcome in Dorset’ Loder, who published a series of tweets berating Dorset Police for investigating the poisoning of the eagle.

Many thanks to Miles King (@MilesKing10) for sharing the details of a Facebook Live event, taking place this evening at 6.30pm, where the public is invited to put policing questions to Chief Constable Chilton and Commissioner Sidwick:

Unfortunately I can’t make this evening’s event but here are some questions you might like to ask:

Who took the decision to close the investigation into the poisoned eagle without conducting a search of the estate?

On what basis was that decision made?

Was the decision unduly influenced by political interference?

Why isn’t Dorset Police searching for evidence of poisoned baits?

Why isn’t Dorset Police searching for evidence of unlawful poison storage?

Was this decision unduly influenced by political interference?

How does Dorset Police justify the potential risk to other white-tailed eagles in the area?

Why has the word ‘wildlife’ been removed from Dorset Police’s Rural Wildlife crime team?

Who took the decision to remove it?

On what basis was that decision made?

Was the decision unduly influenced by political interference?

Why has Dorset Police’s award-winning wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale, been told she will no longer lead on wildlife crime when/if she returns from long-term sick leave?

Where are the toxicology results of all the other dead raptors found on estates in north Dorset in recent months, suspected of being poisoned?

Why is Dorset Police refusing to respond to FoI requests, in breach of legislation?

Why is the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner refusing to respond to FoI requests, in breach of legislation?

Further breach of Freedom of Information Act by Dorset Police re: poisoned eagle

Yesterday I blogged about how Dorset Police and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick, were both in breach of the Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to Chris Packham’s FoI requests about the poisoned eagle incident within the statutory period of 20 working days (see here).

Today I can report a further breach of the Freedom of Information Act by Dorset Police in relation to my FoI requests, also relating to the poisoned eagle incident.

[The poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in North Dorset in January 2022. Photo by Dorset Police]

Regular blog readers may recall I submitted an FoI request to Dorset Police on 4th March 2022, asking for copies of all correspondence between Dorset Police and local Conservative MP Chris ‘eagles aren’t welcome in Dorset‘ Loder on the subjects of wildlife crime, police wildlife crime officers, and eagle reintroductions, from 1 January 2022 to date.

On 17th March 2022 Dorset Police tried to fob me off with a refusal notice with what is perhaps the most ludicrous excuse I’ve ever seen (see here to read it in full).

I appealed that decision and requested a review of it on 14th April 2022. According to the FoI Act, the public authority has another 20 working days in which to respond to that review request. Taking into account all the public bank holidays in April and May, Dorset Police should have responded no later than 17th May 2022.

It’s now 26th May 2022 and Dorset Police hasn’t responded. I have written to them, again, to remind them of their legal obligations. If their silence continues I will escalate my complaint.

Meanwhile, you may also recall that I’d sent a similar FoI request to the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) (David Sidwick) in early March. After a series of reminders to the PCC’s office (see here), I did finally get a response in late April 2022.

However, under scrutiny it became apparent that some of the correspondence I’d requested to see between Chris Loder MP and the PCC, David Sidwick, was missing from the bundle of information I received (see here).

So I wrote back to the PCC and asked them to forward ALL the correspondence, not just the bits they were happy for me to see.

That response was due back next Monday (30th May 2022) but I’m pleased to say it has arrived early and is now sitting in my inbox.

I’ve had a quick skim-read and it’s immediately obvious why ‘someone’ might not have wanted me to see it. I don’t have time to blog about that right now but will come back to it shortly…

UPDATE 16.00hrs: There’s quite a lot going on behind the scenes. For strategic reasons, I won’t be blogging further on this FoI response from the PCC until later next week. I’m sorry I can’t explain why right now but it will hopefully become apparent (and in a good way) next week. Thanks for your patience.

Dorset Police and the PCC in breach of Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to Chris Packham’s request for info on poisoned eagle

In April 2022, Chris Packham submitted two separate Freedom of Information requests to Dorset Police and to the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Sidwick, asking for copies of all correspondence between Dorset Conservative MP Chris ‘Eagles are not welcome in Dorset‘ Loder and various named senior police officers and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, relating to the poisoned eagle incident and wildlife crime in general (Chris’s two FoI requests can be read here).

Chris submitted his Freedom of Information requests on 18th April 2022, which were acknowledged by both Dorset Police and the Dorset PCC within a couple of days.

Dorset Police and the PCC, as public authorities, ‘must respond to requests promptly, and by the twentieth working day following date of receipt of the request‘, according to Section 10 of the FoI Act.

Taking in to account a number of public Bank Holidays in April and May, the latest date by which Dorset Police and the PCC needed to respond was 17th May 2022. If Dorset Police and/or the PCC needed more time to fulfil the request (they are permitted a further 20 working days in exceptional circumstances), they should have told Chris that within the first 20 working days.

Chris has written again to Dorset Police and to the PCC to ask them to comply with the FoI Act and respond by return. So far, they have remained silent. If this continues, Chris will escalate his complaint through the relevant authorities.

More on this shortly.

UPDATE 26th May 2022: Further breach of Freedom of Information Act by Dorset Police re: poisoned eagle (here)

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