Yesterday, gamekeeper George Mutch was sentenced to four months imprisonment after being found guilty of four charges including the illegal killing of a trapped goshawk, which he clubbed to death, and the taking of two other birds, a goshawk and a buzzard. See Raptor Persecution website reports here and here and BBC report here. Mr Mutch was employed on Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire.

Under Section 24 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, an employer can be also be guilty of a wildlife offence under the doctrine of vicarious liability. Where an offence has been committed by an employee, the owner or agent is also guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against unless they can show that they did not know the offence was being committed by the employee AND that they took all reasonable steps and exercised due diligence to prevent the offence being committed. Mr Mutch was asked whether he had received any training from his employer and he said that he had not. Whether he did or not of course cannot be ascertained from such an admission. But the possibility exists that the Crown will proceed against the owner on the basis of their possible vicarious liability. If proceedings were to be brought against the owner, who is that person?

The owner of Kildrummy Estate is Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. The point of this blog is to try to find out who exactly is the human being or beings behind Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. who might end up being charged with an offence.

Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. is a company registered at 23-25 Broad Street, St Helier, Jersey.

It is owned by;

Magnus Nominees Ltd.,
Fidelis Nominees Ltd. &
Rostand Nominees Ltd.

which are all registered at the same address – 23-25 Broad Street, St Helier, Jersey.

So who owns Magnus, Fidelis and Rostand?

Magnus Nominees Ltd. is owned by;

Coutts & Co. Trustees (Jersey) Ltd. &
Citron 2004 Ltd.

again all at 23-25 Broad Street.

Fidelis Nominees Ltd. is also owned by

Coutts & Co. Trustees (Jersey) Ltd. &
Citron 2004 Ltd.

again at 23-25 Broad Street.

Rostand Nominees Ltd. is ALSO owned by

Coutts & Co trustees (Jersey) Ltd. &
Citron 2004 Ltd.

at 23-25 Broad Street.

So…..

Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd is owned by Coutts and Citron through their ownership of Magnus, Fidelis and Rostand.

So who owns Coutts and Citron?

Coutts is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland International (Holdings) Ltd. registered at 71 Bath Street, St Helier.

Citron is owned by

Coutts & Co Trustees (Jersey) Ltd.,
Magnus Nominees Ltd. &
Fidelis Nominees Ltd.

So who owns Coutts, Magnus and Fidelis?

Coutts is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland International (Holdings) Ltd. (see above). Magnus and Fidelis are both owned by Coutts and Citron (see above). And Citron (which is owned by Coutts, Magnus and Fidelis) owns (together with Coutts) Magnus, Fidelis and Rostand.

Magnus, Fidelis and Rostand of course own Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd.

So, after spending £24 on Annual Returns of the above companies who does own Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd.?

Go back up to the top and start again.

Best of luck to the Crown Office.

Big thanks to Simon Brooke for coming up with a flow-chart which attempts to illustrate the relationships.

UPDATE

These arrangements led to a court case – Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd v. Inland Revenue Commissioners 1991 SC 1, 1992 SLT 787, 1991 SCLR 498 – in 1990 over the liability to stamp duty. The decision outlines the deal that was entered into with Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. and the case is now the foundation for the proposition that one cannot contract with oneself and retain control over the outcome.

 

 

160 Comments

  1. It is noteworthy that, at the very same time as David Cameron is seeking more powers to pry deeply into the personal lives of millions of ordinary people, it seems impossible to find out who owns a piece of land where a crime has been committed (possibly with the landowners’ complicity).

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  2. Seems easier to go after RBS International.

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    • It does seem to be the effective final destination. But are the rest just there for decoration?

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      • Pure speculation of course, but here goes:

        Three ultimate beneficiaries – (Magnus, Rostand, Fidelis could even be their names) have assets held in trust by Citron, with trustees (of Citron) being nominated through the 3 entities Magnus Rostand and Fidelis nominee companies. Perhaps the control of the Citron is not equalty split, or represents the interests of different strands of one family.
        Ultimate ownership is irrelivant (Coutts), as the assets are only held in trust.

        Clearly (as per Buccleuch), ultimate owners are not so important as to who enjoys benefits of ownership, but an interesting point about this liability. I doubt Coutts was banking on much in the way of legal liability when it took over custody of the estate.

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      • Aye, clearly indicates, the tortuous path of tenure clarification required to implement the collection of Land Value Rate. Perhaps we could discuss it further at the Scottish Land Revenue Group conference at the National Piping Centre on 25th February.

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  3. Have you tried the land registry?

    They should ban grouse hunting then there wouldn’t be a problem.

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    • The Register of Sasines records the legal owner – Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. It is not obliged to record any ore information that the name of the legal owner.

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    • The Land Registry will produce exactly the same result as above. Why not just ban everybody who lives in the countryside from the countryside. Then the townies can go to the countryside (if they can find it) and fuck it all up like they’ve done at Loch Lomond.

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      • It would be simple enough to ban the ACTIVITIES that led to the raptor persecution in this case, without banning ‘country people’ (whatever that means) from the countryside. There are probably more sophisticated, but harder to enforce, ways to protect raptors as well. Perhaps your comment is an infantile joke, rather than a serous suggestion.?
        Or perhaps you are going for a ‘two wrongs make a right’ argument? One group of people, ‘the townies’ fuck up Loch Lomond side (because of course only urban dwellers make a mess in the countryside), so we shouldn’t blame another group for their bad actions in the countryside?
        Or perhaps those interfering townies just don’t understand the ways of country folk?
        If you’ve got a serious point, it’s lost on me: perhaps you’d like to elaborate?

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        • As a serious proposal, I think we should make grouse a protected species. Then shooting them would be illegal, so there would be no motive for raptor and mountain hare persecution, and the trees could grow back on the upland slopes where we need them so badly.

          Of course, we really need climax predators, too, to control the deer…

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          • Sadly if Grouse were protected and not available for commercial shooting huge tracks of upland Scotland would become unprofitable and landlords would search for an alternative form of revenue from this land. The most likely replacement to shooting would be forestry and the Red Grouse are an open moor bird, keeping well away from wooded areas, therefore a hunting ban would sadly lead to the extinction of the Grouse.
            Surely the most simple system here is to make it illegal for a company to own land at all and the named individual that owns the land must by statute have a Scottish address and all income from the land must also go through a Scottish Bank. Using this system we know who owns the land, we support the Scottish Financial Services Industry and more importantly we can make sure they pay the Tax they are due, which is after all why Kildrummy Estate has it’s registered office in Jersey. These loop holes need to be closed, personally I would make both Tax avoidance and Tax evasion illegal, business tax is a simple construct – how much have you taken in receipts less how much you have spent equals your taxable profit which is taxed at the rate decided by government. If the income is generated in Scotland (ie that is where the goods or services are manufactured or sold or distributed from or too) and the expenditure is in Scotland (ie only business investments within our borders are considered as costs that can be set against income) the difference is the profit generated in Scotland then that profit is taxable by the Scottish government, there are no holes in that a business has generated income in Scotland and they need to pay tax in Scotland. I better get off my hobby horse or I will simplify the whole shooting match.

          • Perhaps we could encourage cuckoos from the clouds as well Simon. Then we could call our country Cloud Cuckoo Scotland.

      • why not just have a countryside that functions in a different way from the quasi-feudal Victorian-Edwardian nightmare- world anachronism it is at present?

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  4. Who pays the tax bill? Or is that a really stupid question?

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  5. Alistair Mathers

    Catch 22!

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  6. Stuart Swanston

    It cannot be outwith the powers of the Scottish Parliament (or is it?) to require that a living, breathing human being with a full postal address in Scotland, the UK or EU is required to register their beneficial ownership of any house or land within Scotland upon pain of paying an escalating number of civil penalties for each quarter that the requested and required information is not submitted.

    To maintain total anominty of land in Scotland any Channel Island, Isle of Mann, Swiss, Lichtenstein or Virgin Island registered company should be prepared ito pay in civil penalties sums equal to the valuation of that land annually after they or their agents had failed to provide the information requested over twelve successive quarters with no further time granted for any transfer of the land in question to other opaque offshore companies after the initial request had been made by recorded delivery to the offices of the offshore company and their land agents.

    Such a modest proposal would permit individual land owners to maintain their anonymity if and only if they were prepared to pay in civil penalties sums equal to the valuation of their land annually. If they find the opportunity costs too high they could sell their land to buyers who are prepared to declare their beneficial ownership. There would be no need to threaten nationalisation of land.

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  7. Makes a mockery of the traceability of land ownership.

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  8. Proper register of land ownership now well overdue!

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    • We have a register – it records Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd as the owner. What we don’t have is a register of beneficial ownership though there’s a bill going through UK Parliament to set one up and Proposal 2 in land reform consultation will stop this in future if it it supported and enacted.

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  9. Och, sounds as if nobody really owns it, Andy. Let’s have it for the people of Scotland, yes? Certainly seems to bring a new meaning to “absentee landlord “

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  10. so that’s one example of who does/doesn’t own Scotland, lets see some more Andy.

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  11. Will the coutts or RBS bank claim an infringement of their human rights if the land is taken?

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    • If you take it from RBS or Coutts you may just be taking from your own pension fund, savings or Insurance company. More helpful to look at who benefits as well.

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  12. And following our twitter exchange of this afternoon, am I to guess that Cluny is now also owned by the same revolving circle of nominees?

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  13. The law being made an ass of again as per usual. These loops have (like the raptor persecution laws) to be tightened until they’re choked out of existence.

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    • Raptor persecution laws do not need to be tightened. A man went to jail yesterday. The law is not being made an ass of. It is absolutely lawful that people are able to hide behind nominees and offshores – it is the lawmakers who are the asses.

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      • I think you might find there is a bit of a link between the lawmakers and ‘absolutely lawful people’. Laws are sometimes designed to have the necessary loopholes in them so they can be exploited by the people who paid the lobbyists to get those loopholes into laws.

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      • The man who should be in jail is not the employee who carried out the orders but the laird who gave those orders. Which is to say, the man whose identity this whole elaborate scheme was set up to protect.

        Which may give us a point of leverage, actually. This amounts to a conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice – to conceal the identity of the perpetrator of a crime – which is a criminal offence in itself. Which means that if the directors of Coutts & co Trustees (Jersey) Ltd won’t disclose who the beneficial owner is, they are themselves guilty of an offence under Scots law.

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  14. OK I guess they need to more rigorously imposed then and I guess the lawmakers need their collective “asses” kicking then.

    Land ownership should be more transparent in my opinion and if they’ve nothing to hide then why do it.

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  15. there is a possible cross compliance issue and one could remove all subsidies from the estate… that hurts more than paltry fines! Also it may get around the issue of an individual’s liability.. this has been done in the recent first vicarious prosecution ….

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  16. ah! Courts and co! The queens bank!
    The plot thickens…

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  17. Don’t need to get the final final owner. The person instructing Mutch is next in line. The person that approves payments to contractors or for goods and services; the person responsible for Mutch’s health and safety.

    If that happens to be an admin person in an office in St Hellier, then that is who PSoS and COPFS go for. Isn’t it.

    Far too simplistic, probably.

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  18. Alasdair Fowler

    This scenario is obscene! Any liability for maintenance, taxation, management or any other responsibility is so wrapped up in onion skins of legal loopholes that it is seemingly impossible to hold anyone to account! Presumably this estate also claims farming grants to ‘maintain’ the estate? Which then will get shipped offshore via jersey? If any politician supports this status quo, the only logical conclusion is they have their own land and tax fiddling at stake.

    Lets get this land reformed, including LVT!

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  19. Er… do we as tax-payers have any current interest in Royal Bank of Scotland International (Holdings) Ltd?

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  20. Andy, You have done great work in researching this and sharing it and it just goes to show how convoluted ownership can be and hard to establish. Owners come forward willingly when there is something beneficial and positive to be gained but the current system would assist owners to “duck and dive” when something negative arises.

    Alan Kirkwood.

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  21. How does the law work with the proceeds of crime legislation if it is determined that the money making enterprise (an estate for example) is based on criminality? Egg collectors and poachers have had the tools of their trade (things that help them break the law) including vehicles used to get to a site etc. confiscated. If this was attempted with the recovery of an estate, I’m pretty sure we’d quickly find out who owned it.

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  22. Trivial point, but I assume it is Broad St and not Bread St as I can’t find a Bread Street in St Helier.

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  23. Couldn’t agree more, Alasdair. This Ruritanian scenario of one secret room after another (figuratively speaking) has no place in 21st century Scotland. It didn’t even have a place in 20th century Scotland, but heigh-ho, better late than never in terms of land reform.

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  24. Under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 a landowner, shooting business or manager can be held criminally liable for the actions of their employees, contractors or agents.

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  25. Alister J Clunas

    Andy, well done for researching this and putting this information in the public domain.
    Are the Directors not legally liable for the actions of the companies? Is there a way of finding out who the Directors of the relevant companies are?

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    • Jersey company law only obliges public companies to disclose the identity of Directors. All these companies are private. We have no idea who the Directors are.

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  26. Surely what we really need to know is who paid his salary? And who employed him. He has a boss who no doubt also has a boss. After that maybe there’s an end.

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  27. Probably being silly here but if I had unpaid debts any assets, goods and chattels whatever would be poinded to reclaim money for my creditors. Why wasn’t Kildrummy estate sold off or taken by the state in lieu of some at least of the £45 million bail out. Or does the state now own 80% of Kildrummy as we “own” 80% of RBS shares.

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    • RBS & associated nominee companies are probably holding assets in trust for ultimate beneficiaries. Thus RBS Group does not have any rights to ownership of any of the assets.

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  28. This is unquestionably immoral and inherently wrong but I have to admit, as someone subjected to half a decade of law school, its a beautiful use of law to avoid all responsibility.
    I’m both impressed and depressed…

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  29. Just one more example proving the need for land reform.

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  30. Obvious I know but if no person actually owns .Would just squatting the land perhaps bring them out ? If no person actually own it who would actually bother ?
    Maybe an advert ….free land giveaway …….owners unknown 🙂

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  31. I have no objection to people owning land, even large quantities of land, but the present system, whereby the actual ownership of that land is legally hidden is a complete anachronism. The laws on restrictive information on nominees regarding directors of companies or other holdings, as I recall, go back to the late 17th century and the rise of world trade among western nations. Company law is being almost continuously uprated, yet some of its most anachronistic elements are left untouched. To protect who, or what? It is the people of individual nations who should be protected, not a very few but very seriously rich individuals, who don’t want anyone else to know what they are doing.

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  32. Steve, my thoughts entirely.

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  33. What slightly surprises me is how Kildrummy(J) Ltd got through the Money Laundering Regulations with their solicitor. I recently instructed a Scottisah Solicitor to act for a charity to receive a bit of land left to us. No money up front, yet all trustees of said charity had to jump through the Law Society of Scotland’s Money Laundering hoops.

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    • The solicitors will know who the ultimate beneficiaries are (if they’re complying with the money laundering rules, which they are under an obligation to do). But they are also under a professional obligation not to tell anyone else, so that doesn’t help much.

      But some of the proposed UK legislation and the LRRG recommendations mentioned in the blog would apply similar disclosure rules to the public registers.

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  34. What more can be said?… squatting is the answer…. allow travelers to set up a permanent encampment…. or house Syrians…. whatever …rather than allow this hobby of slaughtering wildlife to continue….. if they are not prepared to explain who the actual owners are and who pays the bills… insures the vehicles etc … and not a nominee company set up… then they are outwith the law therefore should be treated as such…. Oh yes I understand the law as it was set up to look after the “rights” of the landowners…. but these particular laws should be overturned immediately as they waste an asset that Scotland should control…. not some Jersey bank and its scams… & will this happen in my lifetime… NAH!!… as the SNP hasn’t the bottle to start… scared they will not be seen as all things to all men…

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    • I certainly hope it doesn’t happen in your lifetime the way you describe that it should happen. That’s the kind of near-hysterical nonsense that gets nobody anywhere.

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  35. Just as we all have to jump through various so-called anti-money-laundering hoops when we want to do the most basic banking business. Everyone except the money-launderers, it would seem!

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  36. so delighted that at last someone is jailed. hope this will not be the first though imagine the evidence will be even better hidden, I also thank andy for his research and the conversations which have followed.

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    • I know the man who has been jailed is the man who did the actual killings. But he is also a man almost certainly on a pitiful salary and living in a tied house. He had little choice but to do the bidding of his masters, and now he has little choice but to keep silent and do jail time for them.

      It’s the masters who should be in jail.

      (Hi, Sarah!)

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      • Agree totally Simon but who and where is the master and can he/they even be brought before a Scottish court.

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      • I have to agree Simon, this conviction, while correct, didn’t feel as if real justice was done. Comments on feudalism and 19th century thinking are very apt here. I also feel the SGA are letting their members down very badly.

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  37. Is Coutts “the Queen’s Banker” (i.e. after Barings collapsed). Maybe the Queen is the owner and beneficiary….

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  38. It all sounds an excellent scam and can I sign up for it,cause I borrowed a tenner from my daughters “RBS piggy bank” and she keeps asking for it back,now I would like to avoid this,so can the “legal servants” who assisted Kildrummy(Jersey)Ltd please inform me how they managed it or may be they could put me in touch with the “humans” they “consulted” with and/ or who signed the legal documents regarding the aforementioned ownership of a State,sorry Estate,called Kildrummy.I await your speedy response……………………….still waiting…….

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  39. Might be an idea to cease all shooting and game rearing on this estate ?

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  40. I note that Rum is owned by SNH and people are more or less prohibited. Should that be the place to start squatting/crofting?

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  41. The shell after shell Russian doll structure will be a tax and liability construct. They will shift loans on and off the mainland to minimise tax due and to make it difficult to assign responsibility for cases such as this.

    Beyond and above the law.

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    • they can’t move the land out and that’s why the collection of Land Value Rate to replace taxation is so vital.

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  42. Alasdair Fowler

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/woman-wins-court-battle-to-keep-tenancy-of-farm-1.469995

    According to this 1996 article in the Herald, there was a court case between a tenant farmer and Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. In this case, it was decided that:

    “`In my opinion, from and after 1979, it was the Smiths and not Kildrummy (Jersey) who were entitled to receive the rents and profits and it was the Smiths and not Kildrummy (Jersey) who were entitled to take possession of Wester Clova. “It follows therefore, that Kildrummy (Jersey) had no power to issue the notice to quit to Mrs Calder.”

    So do infact James and Hylda Smith have a joint responsibility of the estate under vicarious liability?

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    • They are the probable beneficial owners but we don’t know. The court action was raised by Kildrummy (Jersey) Ltd. and the facts you quote relate to an arrangement between Smiths and a previous onshore company of a similar name.

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  43. All very interesting – for a newcomer.

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  44. Charlotte,
    The Cluny Bothy has always been an open bothy, where I’ve spent a good few dark nights, even without MBA involvement – whether Land Reform will have any effect on that I know not!

    I’m waiting for the disposition to be registered and Registers of Scotland to publish the brief facts, but I’ll certainly keep my eyes open for any interesting comings and/or goings next door!

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  45. I think you may well be right, though I’m not sure just how the law on vicarious responsibility works in a slightly situation such as this. George Mutch has paid the price for being, above anything else, extremely naïve. The reason I say that is because Kildrummy, which I know very well, is by no means what many people might assume from press reports and websites such as this, an isolated Highland glen. It’s well populated, as is any attractive location within commuting distance of Aberdeen, and being in Strathdon, deeply and industriously agricultural. Many of those living in the Strath, including the Howe of Alford just down the road, occupy senior positions in the oil & related industries and are well aware of countryside issues such as raptor persecution. What I think has happened in this case is that George Mutch has been shopped by some observant local resident to the RSPB who have quickly moved in with their cameras under the pretext of doing a survey on how crow traps work. The fact that the keeper hasn’t been aware of that possibility doesn’t say a lot for his common sense, nor, indeed, for his knowledge of goshawks which, in that part of Aberdeenshire, take very few pheasant or partridge since they feed almost exclusively on wood pigeons, which are legion. And, ironically, the RSPB (an organisation for which I have no time whatsoever) shouldn’t actually have been on that land in the course of their jobs without the permission of the owners, since RtoR doesn’t extend to the pursuit of professional activities in this context. How would they ever have got that permission, I wonder?

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    • Why should the RSPB seek permission from the estate owner before attempting to gather evidence for a crime ? the toff would simply tip off his minions to avoid illegal activity for the duration of the surveillance period – it would be akin to the police having to warn gangsters they are under surveillance !

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    • The Swedish name ‘Dovehawk’ gives the ecology clarity. I think we might have got the man who turned the gas on, but not those who ordered the construction and use of the gas chambers.

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    • George Mutch has paid the price for committing a wildlife crime. He wasn’t convicted of naivety.

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  46. I am of the firm belief that if the Inland Revenue did their job and actually looked at who was paying for grouse and pheasant shooting days/holidays – they would find that much/most of it comes from tax scams such as “corporate hospitality”, or possibly other forms of undeclared income.

    The Scottish Government should just go full steam ahead with bans on grouse and pheasant shooting/artificial game rearing – there is just so much criminality surrounding it.

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  47. The Goshawk is one of our finest birds in our countryside, and the fact that gamekeepers on pheasant shoots kill them on behalf of a bunch of rich yobs is yet further proof of their contempt for our natural heritage – so you know what these philistines are slaughtering, here is a vid of some proper pheasant hunting with Goshawks – not the Victorian/Edwardian autistic spoof “hunting” of shooting tame pheasants driven towards you, which was really only a gimmick invented to sell the new rapid fire breech loading shotgun ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC8-HNVH0fE

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  48. Strathpuffer

    I totally agree with your comments . Farmers have inspectors arrive on their doorsteps without any warning to carry out a full farm inspection , no matter what time of the farming year .
    Why can the landowner not have the same enthusiastic inspection by members of R S P B ?? . Maybe landowners are deemed to be above the law ? .

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  49. There is, surely, a big difference between an inspection/investigation by Police or by the IACS gang, both of whom are servants of the state, and RSPCA or RSPB both of whom are charities answerable if atall to their members?

    I rather doubt that this incompetant Keeper (who will lose his Firearms Cert as a consequence of imprisonment, so be unemployable in his trade) was actually told to kill goshawks – perhaps a sniffy remark to the effect of “not such a good show of grouse / pheasants as I’d expected, eh?” “Rather a poor show?”, and the idiot buzzes off and does the dirty deed.

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  50. Richard ,
    The police and other authorities should have the same powers as the farm inspectors , to turn up at the door without prior warning , just to see that everything is ticketyboo .
    It is paramount that cruelty to animals is stamped out .
    Many birds that are shot are eaten by the public .
    As they are reared animals , animal welfare has to be addressed .
    We should know what these birds have been eating , should we not ? .

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  51. Fiona,

    I entirely agree that the Police & the IACS Inspectors should have the right to turn up without notice, requiring a warrant only if they want to go indoors. My objection is to the uncontrolled “charities” like RSPCA, SSPCA, NSPCC, RSPB, who obey not the law of the land, but the prejudices of their leaders.

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    • again, where is the national wildlife agency as per normal countries

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      • It’s not empowered to do any of the things you appear to want or expect it to do. So if that’s what you want, then agitate for it.

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    • In what way do they not obey the law of the land?
      I’ve read The independent review of the prosecution activity of the RSPCA and court cases relevant to RSPCA, but I would be grateful if you could cite me cases where SSPCA, NSPCC or RSPB broke the law.

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  52. Ron has it nailed, too many quangos and NGOs.

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    • Thanks for that, and in this case we have a whole troop of stuffed monkeys to get past before we can claim the organ-grinder for our dosh

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  53. The SSPCA are’nt up to much when it comes to raptor & mountain hare persecution by estates, they always seem to spend vast amounts of time attending every farmers livestock market in the area, as if farmers are going to ill treat stock in the sales ring or turn up with emaciated livestock ! – I’d suggest to SSPCA they should get their hill boots and camo gear on and start inspecting the sporting estates – anyone would think they are scared of the toffs !

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    • You seem to have a thing with “Toffs” Strathpoofer!. I suggest you pop down to a friday sale at Thainstone mart. the quality and obvious care to cattle sold there is second to none and a resounding kickback to the cattle farmers who work 90 hrs/7 days a week/50 weeks a year to produce the quality food you eat!. At a loss I may add!. The CAP/SFP payment is what makes us producers break even, AND puts food in your bellies!. You townie armchair expert comments are hilarious to us, the actual producers!. Man reading you comments is fecking hilarious,you really do no nowt about how the countryside works!. Dare say you support the SNP s Mugabe style landgrab/land reform bill/succession bill. eh???.. We bought and paid for our land but you want to steal 1 million acres from our total 12milion acres productive area for what?. car parks?. You Townie pricks make me sick!!!!!

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  54. agreed too many quangos.

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  55. Topically, here’s a report about what is apparently the first prosecution of a landowner for the ‘vicarious liability’ legislation: http://www.hbjgateleyscotland.com/news/vicarious-liability-potential-trap-landowners

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  56. Andy – you could have saved some searching time an perhaps a fee payment just by looking at 25 Broad Street, St Helier, Jersey in Google StreetView!

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  57. Build a house on their land they will not be slow in chasing you down

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    • Simply put in an outline planning application (perfectly permissible and legal to apply on land you don’t own) that would shake the Kildrummy tree…

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      • Its a shooting estate, maybe there have been prosecutions of poachers there ? – who was the named person doing the prosecuting ?

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  58. It’s been suggested above that the beneficial owners of this estate are probably the Qatari royal family. In that case they may well have sovereign immunity from vicarious liability and to attempt to prosecute them would create all kinds of diplomatic incidents and upset oil and gas deals. The same will apply to UK income tax. Someone should be chasing the local police and prosecutors who will probably be reluctant to share such embarrassing facts. its well known that royals have a penchant for shooting hen harriers and not getting prosecuted for it.

    Its not just solicitors who should “know their clients” under money laundering regulations. Accountants, bankers and estate agents have similar responsibilities but all will hide behind client confidentiality.

    Lets hope the proposed laws requiring the identification of beneficial land ownership go through, sadly I doubt they will

    Reply

  59. The general lack of external supervision and inspection of driven grouse shooting is astonishing. As I understand the law ,there is no legal requirement to have the shooting activities of sporting estates inspected and supervised by government agencies.

    As a first step, an inspection regime needs to be established for driven grouse shooting to ensure that firearms legislation, animal welfare issues etc are being strictly adhered to. An inspection would include written and importantly, film evidence taken by the inspectors which should be available for members of the Scottish Parliament and the public to view on the Scottish Government website. Most of us have no accurate idea of what happens on driven grouse shoots and this information needs to be freely available to the public so that we can take an informed position on the activity.

    Re Ron’s suggestion for a Scottish National Wildlife Agency ,of course we need one -but we don’t have one at the moment so the NGOs need to be involved until we do get one. The inspection regime I am suggesting should co-opt the RSPB, SSPCA and others to take part in statutory inspections of grouse shooting and, like HMI inspections in education, it could also include lay people who wish to observe and gather evidence on the activity.

    The completely bizarre nature of ‘sport shooting’ and its completely anachronistic position in 2015 comes over very clearly in a strange little report in this week’s Aberdeen P&J which reported that a Belgian national had been convicted of and fined for assault and for “being drunk in charge of a firearm” in Aberdeen Airport. He was part of a” shooting party” of 10 (apparently bound for Clova House in Lumsden) who had travelled to Aberdeen from Belgium on a private plane.During the flight, he had been drinking heavily.
    Apparently it wasn’t illegal for him to be in possession of his personal firearm as he passed through airport customs, just to be drunk in possession of it!
    Can anyone shed some light on the legislation surrounding sporting estates and the right to bring fireams into the country for the purpose of shooting?

    Reply

  60. I think there is an overall laziness on the part of journalists and wildlife film makers to cover the issues of grouse and pheasant shooting, and raptor and mountain hare extermination – whatever happened to investigative journalism ? they seem to be quite willing to travel to Africa and tropical countries but not to cover UK wildlife, I’d hazard a guess that much of the public don’t even know that mountain hares exist in the UK ! Surely these days with telephoto lens, night vision, drones etc they could do some good exposes !

    Reply

    • StrathP.,

      I don’t think it’s laziness, I think it’s more likely to be that respectable journalists look at the facts. One of those facts is that we have more raptors in our skies now than at any time for the past hundred years or so.

      Reply

      • We may very well have more raptors in our skies than 100 years ago – thats because thankfully there are less shooting estates around today than there were then ! If journalists looked at the facts ie the issue of this gamekeeper killing goshawks, and then produced documentaries on the subject, I doubt whether the general public would allow grouse moors or artificial pheasant shooting to continue, nor would the taxpayer be especially happy with all the tax and grant scams practised by the estates – which I’d suggest should be the subject of further documentaries.

        Reply

  61. Alan Short,

    You begin by writing , “The general lack of external supervision and inspection of driven grouse shooting is astonishing. As I understand the law ,there is no legal requirement to have the shooting activities of sporting estates inspected and supervised by government agencies.”

    In your next paragraph, you state; “Most of us have no accurate idea of what happens on driven grouse shoots and this information needs to be freely available to the public so that we can take an informed position on the activity.”

    Your whole piece scans very well, your syntax is excellent and you are clearly well educated. Your only problem, though, is that you just talk sh^*e.

    Reply

    • It’s a problem with which the honourable gentleman is clearly familiar.

      Reply

      • Well, Simon, you are absolutely correct, I am indeed very familiar with it, because I see so much of it, almost exclusively written by townies who don’t even know where the countryside is, let alone what it looks like. I do know where the countryside is, and what it looks like. I know what it feels like and smells like, what it’s like to live and work in it, how it fits together and the parts played in its functions by its human and non-human inhabitants. Which is precisely why, when I read shite being written about the countryside I will always challenge it, and I will always win the argument because that is what knowledge can do.

        Reply

        • Well, I’ve yet to see you even score a point, but you may yet surprise me. Pardon me, however, for not holding my breath.

          Reply

        • Calling people “Townies’ is the standard fallback of self styled ‘Countrymen’ who think a rural address makes them special. There is a large body of peer reviewed science which shows the clear association of raptor population problems with the presence of sporting estates, in particular grouse moors. It is that science which the Sheriff in the Mutch case referred to when sentencing Mutch and it is that science which underlies the Scottish Government’s moves to strengthen the legislation relating to wildlife crime. The same science tells you clearly that the prosecutions and convictions obtained are just the tip of the iceberg of criminality on grouse moors in particular. All that ‘Countrymen’ have to offer in response is anecdote, assertion and old wives tales, and the bunker mentality exemplified by Niall McKillop’s nonsense. The smell of shite indeed.

          Reply

        • All you’ve said (at least in response to Alan’s comment here) is “You’re wrong.” and “Townies bad. Countryside people good. Me countryside person. Me win”

          Bravo, what an argument winner.

          Reply

  62. Niall

    I would be grateful If you can shed any light on the two substantive issues raised in my post : what kind of external inspection regime of driven grouse shooting currently exists, and secondly, what is the legislation that allows foreign nationals to bring their own guns into the country for shooting on sporting estates? And if you could do either while keeping a civil tongue in your head, then that would be a bonus.

    Reply

    • Have you considered, perhaps, Googling for “Shotgun Foreign Visitors”? If you were to do so, I think you’d find out all that you want to know.

      Not rocket science, really!

      Reply

      • I don’t regard either of those items to be substantive issues, Alan. As you have already stated, (including yourself, I take it) “Most of us have no accurate idea of what happens on driven grouse shoots”. You follow this by proposing that “… this information needs to be freely available to the public so that we can take an informed position on the activity.” I don’t agree that there is any necessity for the public to be spoon fed information such as this, and it certainly should never be a duty of government. If people wish to learn what goes on on a grouse moor there are many avenues they can follow in order to obtain that information, quite apart, of course, from actually going on to a moor as a beater for a few days.

        As for an “external inspection regime”, on which planet do you currently reside? You then write, “As I understand the law ,there is no legal requirement to have the shooting activities of sporting estates inspected and supervised by government agencies.” You are absolutely correct in that. Why then, since you understand the current situation, should you find it, ‘astonishing’? And what, precisely, do you envisage – a team of bobble hatted ‘conservation professionals’ running around filming the toffs at play and making sure their tweeds are of the correct pattern? This is just the same scatty, authoritarian tosh spouted by rabid greenies the world over. And where does this ‘regime’ end – in one’s kitchen?

        I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your concern regarding foreign visitors bringing their weapons into the country. Provision has been made for this since the first firearms legislation passed through parliament in 1937, and has been further upgraded/consolidated in successive Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1998. More recently, an homologation has taken place whereby shotguns and firearms (rifles) are now entered into a single certificate, rather than each type of weapon having a seperate form. All of this is available online, and the Police Scotland website section for visitors can be found here:
        http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/finance/service-fees-and-charges/firearms/146928/
        Conditions for transportation and storage of weapons and ammunition imported temporarily for visitors use, are the same as those for residents. The system works very well indeed, and on the very rare occasions when it doesn’t, such as the example you quoted of the drunken Belgian, both estate staff and the constabulary are very quick to act, the offender usually being put on a plane and banned from further shooting activity in the UK.

        As for keeping a civil tongue in my head – that is just a little more of the arrogant, authoritarian crap you wrote in the original piece.

        As for keeping a civil tongue in my head

        Reply

      • I don’t regard either of those items to be substantive issues, Alan. As you have already stated, (including yourself, I take it) “Most of us have no accurate idea of what happens on driven grouse shoots”. You follow this by proposing that “… this information needs to be freely available to the public so that we can take an informed position on the activity.” I don’t agree that there is any necessity for the public to be spoon fed information such as this, and it certainly should never be a duty of government. If people wish to learn what goes on on a grouse moor there are many avenues they can follow in order to obtain that information, quite apart, of course, from actually going on to a moor as a beater for a few days.

        As for an “external inspection regime”, on which planet do you currently reside? You then write, “As I understand the law ,there is no legal requirement to have the shooting activities of sporting estates inspected and supervised by government agencies.” You are absolutely correct in that. Why then, since you understand the current situation, should you find it, ‘astonishing’? And what, precisely, do you envisage – a team of bobble hatted ‘conservation professionals’ running around filming the toffs at play and making sure their tweeds are of the correct pattern? This is just the same scatty, authoritarian tosh spouted by rabid greenies the world over. And where does this ‘regime’ end – in one’s kitchen?

        I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your concern regarding foreign visitors bringing their weapons into the country. Provision has been made for this since the first firearms legislation passed through parliament in 1937, and has been further upgraded/consolidated in successive Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1998. More recently, an homologation has taken place whereby shotguns and firearms (rifles) are now entered into a single certificate, rather than each type of weapon having a seperate form. All of this is available online, and the Police Scotland website section for visitors can be found here:
        http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/finance/service-fees-and-charges/firearms/146928/
        Conditions for transportation and storage of weapons and ammunition imported temporarily for visitors use, are the same as those for residents. The system works very well indeed, and on the very rare occasions when it doesn’t, such as the example you quoted of the drunken Belgian, both estate staff and the constabulary are very quick to act, the offender usually being put on a plane and banned from further shooting activity in the UK.

        As for keeping a civil tongue in my head – that is just a little more of the arrogant, authoritarian crap you wrote in the original piece.

        Reply

  63. Niall

    Do you agree that a ghastly crime has been carried out by George Mutch on Kildrummy Estate ? .
    Do you think that similar crimes are being carried out on other estates in Scotland ?.
    Do you think that greater deterrents should be used to stop this type of crime ie bigger fines / longer periods in jail / licence taken away / estate no longer allowed to have shooting ?.

    Reply

    • Fiona,
      I’d certainly agree that most people would see this as having been a ghastly crime, but that’s also rather subjective and a matter of individual sensibility. But, and as I’ve said already, I believe that George Mutch was as much a victim of his own stupidity as anything else. Every keeper is in the public eye nowadays, Perhaps I should qualify that, though, by making two points. The first is that there appears to have been a singular lack of hands-on management on the estate. An estate owner must make judgements, as must any manager in any walk of life, about his employees. And not asking the questions about certain activities and checking the veracity of the answers one receives is every bit as bad as knowing what’s going on and doing nothing about it. It wouldn’t surprise me, therefore, to learn that Crown Office and the police might seek to bring charges of vicarious responsibility against the beneficial owners of the estate. That would be real justice, in this instance.

      The second point is that Mr Mutch appears to have been completely out of kilter with the vast majority of others of his profession. Many of today’s entrants to gamekeeping and deerstalking are qualified to a high level, which enables them to progress, perhaps to estate or river management, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with a hands-on apprenticeship as an under-keeper or stalker under the right tutelage, I’m pretty sure that within 10 years or so we’ll see the great majority of these boys and girls coming to the profession with HNDs or degrees, and truly modern attitudes to wildlife management : a far cry from the situation only 15 or 20 years ago. Things are already very different from those times, will continue to change for the better, and if we think the law regarding the transparency of the way land is owned an anachronism, then so, too, was one, George Mutch.

      Against that, I have to say that I believe the behaviour of the RSPB in this case to have been outrageous. Cameras placed on private land for the purposes of spying on individuals should only be allowed under warrant, in exactly the same way as phone tapping. For them to state that they were carrying out a survey on how crow traps are used is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, and this from the 2nd largest charity in the UK, who require in their next financial year no less than £100 million simply to stand still.

      Do I think that similar crimes are being committed on other estates in Scotland? The balance of probability is that, yes, they are. However, their frequency and severity will, I believe continue to diminish, as it has since around the late seventies.

      No, I don’t believe that greater deterrents are by now necessary. The law is strong enough, although it must be used carefully, and not in the way the RSPB have used it in this case, nor in the manner frequently employed and widely condemned in England, by the RSPCA. These charities have big agendas and also have deep pockets. The RSPCA are in England allowed to bring prosecutions in their own right, which is not the case in Scotland where only the Crown and HMRC can do so. The RSPCA are, therefore, able to pursue individuals through the courts who have not the slightest hope of being able to afford an adequate defence. There must be no such powers granted in Scotland to any charities or trusts.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply

  64. Mr mutch may have committed a ghastly crime, but it pales into insignificance beside other ghastly crimes such as the recent clearance of the angus glens in the name of shooting.
    All rural people need the same rights of occupation as crofters.

    Reply

    • I didn’t realise the Angus Glens had been depopulated Hector, whether recently or historically. Would you care to expand on that a little?

      Reply

      • The angus glens would have been cleared like all other glens around 1800.
        Most of the farm tenants have been cleared away since 2000.

        Reply

        • I guess that’s a lot to do with the wider issue of tenancy agreements, as well as grouse, but I think it appalling where people are being forced out of farming for any reason, it just sucks the life out of rural areas.

          Reply

          • I can confirm that at least one tenant farmer in the Angus Glens (the son of a neighbour) had his tenancy ended (presumably by use of the device of a limited partnership) in favour of grouse. He was unable to find another farm to tenant, andso is now lost to farming.

          • Its all to do with shooting unfortuneately. The life IS being sucked from rural areas by the estate owners who desire to have the fewest possible number of people about who might get in the way of the shooting.

  65. Niall

    Do you , personally , agree that a ghastly crime has been carried out by George Mutch on Kildrummy Estate ?.

    Reply

    • Crime, surely, is crime? While I’ll agree that exceeding the general 60 mph limit on a straight dry road is less serious than murder, I don’t think that qualifying certain criminal offences as “ghastly” takes us any further.

      Mutch was convicted of deliberately committing an offence of which he cannot have been ignorant – I think that a four month sentence (of which he’ll presumably serve two?) is daft, and uneconomic – I’d have gone for a suspended sentence, or a full year inside.

      Whether his “supervisor” told him to kill protected birds we don’t know – I’d guess that the answer is that he didn’t – he merely suggested either that if Mutch couldn’t show more game, the (nameless) proprietors might not continue his employment, or, on the otherside, that if Mutch showed more game he could expect a bonus.

      Either way it doesn’t matter – as I read the law it is for the supervisor to show that he did all he could to prevent his staff killing protected species, if he wants to get off.

      All the class war gibbering about banning grouse shooting is a waste of breath – a prison sentence is terminal for a Shotgun or Firearms Certificate, for life, I think – any keeper or keeper’s supervisor or laird who is convicted and sentenced to “go down” has ended his sporting career. Simples! Fiscals and Sheriffs aren’t (most of them anyway) stupid. Now the glass ceiling (or whatever you call it) has been broken for Mutch, I think we can reasonably expect that any further offenders can expect to be sent down with all the consequences that follow, and serve them bloody well right.

      But does “ghastly” serve any purpose?

      Reply

  66. Richard

    “” illegal killing of a trapped goshawk which he CLUBBED to death “”
    If this is not ghastly , what is ?. Was it a quick death – I very much doubt it ?.
    The word ghastly properly describes the bad act .

    Reply

    • Clubbing could be effective; I’ve never killed a goshawk, so I don’t know, but typically birds have thin skulls. In any case neither you nor I know whether this was a particularly brutal way to kill the bird. What we do know is that a rare and magnificent bird was killed, in continuance of a long history of predator persecution which leaves our ecosystem badly out of balance.

      We don’t need to add emotional epithets to the crime to emphasise how damaging it is. The bird is dead. It’s gone, and the offspring it might have had are gone to; the breeding success of a rare species is further set back. The whole community of Scotland is damaged by this sort of crime. A prison sentence is appropriate but we should be imprisoning the organ grinder, not the monkey.

      Reply

      • The Goshawk is not a rare bird, Simon, having re-established itself here during the mid to late seventies and with no help, I might add, from the then nascent conservation industry. Clubbing a bird several times is a brutal way to kill. The most effective way to kill any bird is with the point of a slim bladed, very sharp knife, inserted at the base of the rear of the skull and pushed rapidly towards the beak. Death is invariably instantaneous and the bird hasn’t seen it coming.

        Reply

        • Niall, don’t be more foolish or peurile than you need. In sixty years live mainly in rural Scotland, I have seen wild goshawks precisely twice; they may be, internationally, categorised as ‘least concern’ but in rural Scotland they’re still extremely rare.

          As to killing a bird with a knife, what planet do you pretend to live on? For most purposes you kill a bird by wringing it’s neck. I admit I’d not like to try that with a mid-sized raptor (without at least an extremely tough pair of gloves), but then we’re all agreed that we shouldn’t be killing raptors.

          Reply

          • I live on a planet where killing birds was once, a long time ago now, a way of life for me, as it had been for my father and his father before him. I learned about the pipe smoker’s knife in my teens and never wrang a birds neck after that.

            The goshawk is no longer rare. I was one of those, during the late seventies involved in attempting, in a rather amateurish way, to ensure that there were goshawks once more in the wild in Scotland. One was released in Aberdeenshire no more than three miles from Kildrummy. One doesn’t see many goshawks if one doesn’t know how or where to look for them. There are, at the very least, four or five pairs breeding on the Black Isle alone. Find a large population of pigeons, and I will find you a gos.

  67. Well, OK Fiona, if it satisfies a specific sensibility, then in terms of the Gos being clubbed to death, the OED definition of ghastly is appropriate. But I think we have to look at the crime in its totality, which is what I think Richard has done, and my own feeling is that it was an act of utter stupidity more than anything else. In my opinion what is far more important than the act itself, is that Mr Mutch appears to have felt that he would get away with it. So far as I’m concerned that comes down to supervision and the buck for that stops with the owners, nobody else.

    Reply

    • So you agree, then, that it is the owners who are responsible for this crime, and consequently that it is they who have been jailed?

      Reply

      • Yes, if they are resident, if they are not then it is their land agent who is responsible. But I have to qualify that by saying that one is innocent until proven guilty, and I wouldn’t like to see a court of public opinion changing that.

        Reply

  68. Niall McKillop’s posts are entirely opinion and assertion, all based purely on the claim that his rural address means he can ‘smell’ the countryside. Thankfully the Scottish Government and the Judiciary are a little better informed and they base legislative and sentencing policy on something rather more concrete. Mr McKillop has clearly failed to notice that Mutch’s sentence was the first custodial sentence ever for a gamekeeper convicted of wildlife crime, after decades of such convictions. That marks a change in sentencing policy which has been driven by the body of peer reviewed science showing the failure of raptor populations on sporting estates as well as the association of wildlife crime incidents (prosecuted or not) and convictions with sporting estates. Vicarious liability was another sea change in government attitudes to the problem of sporting estates and the proposals on deer in the Land Reform recommendations may mark another. I would predict also that the emerging science on the damage to ecosystem services from intensive muirburn, particularly on water quality, and the public cost of rectifying this damage will mean further action against ‘The Countryside’. Mr McKillop cannot ‘smell’ the changes under way because his head is firmly in the sand. He thinks it’s all ‘class war’
    Incidentally I have been hearing for 30 years the story that a new educated breed of gamekeeper with ‘truly modern attitudes to wildlife management’ is emerging from the colleges. We are clearly still waiting. Meanwhile the Scottish Gamekeepers Association continues to publicly embarrass itself with statements about wildlife and ecology which would embarrass any second year school biology pupil.

    Reply

    • I have missed nothing. I knew of the Mutch affair several days after it happened and have followed it ever since. I am also well aware of how legislation and sentencing works and similarly that should GM have received a custodial sentence, it would have been the first of its kind. You state ” That marks a change in sentencing policy which has been driven by the body of peer reviewed science showing the failure of raptor populations on sporting estates,” Rubbish. It has been driven by public opinion, and rightly.

      At a guess I’d say, BSA, notwithstanding your fusilistic monicker, that you are possibly some kind of conservation professional, with all the talk of emerging science, peer review etc., all delivered in the kind of noisy, hectoring tone guaranteed to engender, even in the most permanently enraged and most deranged mullah, a bout of very serious jealousy. You may even be a mad mullah, I really couldn’t care less.

      My rural address has nothing to do with the fact that I can smell the countryside – that is down to a lifetime spent in it and carefully observing it. As for my head being in the sand, if it is, then it could be in a far worse place, which is where I suspect yours might be.

      Reply

  69. Niall :
    Phew! Where do I start? “arrogant, authoritarian crap”; scatty, authoritarian tosh”; “bobble hatted ‘conservationist professionals’”; “rabid greenies” What’s next: the Wicked Witch?

    As far as the serious point about who is best placed to regulate grouse shooting, I simply disagree with you. The management of grouse moors cannot be left to the estates themselves. There is increasing criticism of the purpose, methods and consequences of grouse moor management from individuals and agencies with quite diverse concerns( patterns of concentrated land ownership, the difficulties of identifying beneficial owners, raptor persecution, mountain hare persecution, environmental degradation from hill tracks, obstructions to rights of access )

    I had initially thought that a licensing and inspection regime for the actual shooting should be introduced. You have convinced me that the role of grouse moors in Scotland’s economy and wider society should be the subject of an official enquiry which can look at the whole range of views, review the evidence and recommend legislation if necessary. I have no idea whether this is likely in the near future or whether an enquiry report would recommend banning the activity outright or recommend additional government subsidies for it, but the future of this activity is now part of a wider democratic debate on land reform in which- yes, even “townies”- will be allowed to express their views : get used to it.

    On firearms legislation and sporting estates, thank you for these references: they will help me to gain a clearer impression of the current situation and the protocols governing the carriage of guns to shooting estates. I mentioned the “drunk in possession of a firearm” incident in Aberdeen because it had never occurred to me be that anyone would actually be allowed to bring their own firearm with them on a visit to Scotland (except perhaps diplomatic protection teams).

    I acknowledge that currently there are many people who are allowed to carry their firearms with them for a variety of perfectly legal purposes but society’s idea of what is legitimate and therefore what should be legal, changes. As a lay person I would have thought that the carriage and use of lethal firearms would be restricted to a small number of clearly defined, essential purposes. Carrying personal firearms around or into this country for the purpose of killing birds for pleasure would not be on my list.

    Reply

    • Alan
      I agree with almost all of your 2nd paragraph. But all the stuff about control and regulation – where does it all stop. People using firearms responsibly pose absolutely no danger to anyone, so why do you try to portray them as some sort of incipient Boko Horam?

      Reply

      • Are you serious that you didnt know the Angus glens had been depopulated?

        Reply

        • I knew the Angus Glens had been depopulated during the clearances, and a colleague of mine lost the tenancy of a cottage in Glen Clova in favour of an extra grouse moor under-keeper about five years ago, but I don’t believe there has been wholesale depopulation there. If I am wrong please correct me.

          Reply

        • I should have added, Hector, that Richard informed me (above) of a tenant who had been supplanted in favour of grouse in one of the Angus Glens quite recently, surmising that one of these Limited Agricultural Partnerships might have enabled the landlord to get him out. Putting farmers of the land or out of tenancies in favour of sport is not the way we should be going and is a very important part of what any new Land Reform legislation should address.

          Reply

  70. In reply to Anosmic townie

    AT, you state “All you’ve said (at least in response to Alan’s comment here) is “You’re wrong.” and “Townies bad. Countryside people good. Me countryside person. Me win. Bravo, what an argument winner.”

    I have answered every question Alan asked me to. You’re just making it up as you go along. What has clearly become a problem here is that some contributors appear to be driven by an anti-bloodsports agenda, so tar everyone who works in the countryside with the George Mutch brush then extend their prejudice to take a shot (no pun intended) at grouse moor management and other aspects of what happens in the countryside. I hold a fundamentally different view to those who follow that agenda, which includes some Scottish politicians, but when I, and others, express my view, moral rectitude rises in our opponents who then attempt to portray us some kind of post-neanderthal cult. If I’d ever heard a single constructive idea coming regarding land reform from the antis I’d be more than happy to listen to them, but an extensive network of cycle tracks, desirable as it might be, doesn’t even begin to address problems like opacity of ownership, tied houses or one-sided limited partnerships.

    Reply

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