RSPB witnesses put on trial in the unsuccessful appeal of gamekeeper Glenn Brown!

Once you have read the text below written by Mark Thomas (RSPB), you will be left with no doubt who was on trial in the recent appeal heard at Derby Crown Court brought by Glenn Brown the convicted Derbyshire gamekeeper. Dirty tricks, false accusations, attacks on RSPB credibility and intimidation tactics, all being used by Brown’s defence QC in a determined strategy initiated to discredit the RSPB witnesses just to get Brown off.  Brown’s appeal was always going to be interesting as it was important to restore the  damaged image of the shooting fraternity. The methodology used by Brown’s defence QC  in Derby Crown Court over the last three weeks just goes to show how determined and under-handed Brown’s defence team were prepared to be. In the end it was all for nothing and justice prevailed. On top of Brown’s court costs of £17,000  there will also be a huge bill from his legal team which is likely to be at least an additional  £8,000 to £10,000.

This is what Mark Thomas had to say on the matter.

Have you ever been accused of something you haven’t done? When I say accused I mean directly, in front of others, repeatedly being told you’re unscrupulous and a liar in the strongest possible terms?

Imagine if the truth is the very opposite and that the only defence the aggressor has is to attack you and your credibility. Finally, imagine if it’s in your job description to expect it.

For the past 14 days, myself and three RSPB Investigations colleagues have been in this exact situation. Bertie Woodcock, the defence QC has dished it out without any recourse or single shred of proof, but why?

Because his gamekeeper client, Glenn Brown, was filmed in an undercover RSPB operation illegally operating a hawk  trap baited with live pigeons  in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire. The same valley where the raptor population has suffered a catastrophic collapse since 2006, with only four goshawk nests being successful from the last 20 attempts.

If you believe the defence, with MI5-like credentials RSPB officers elaborately set the operation up, obtained one of Brown’s pigeons, put it in one of his cage traps, planted a dead sparrowhawk nearby, filmed the keeper apparently checking an empty trap. Then we convinced Derbyshire Police to raid the premises, after placing a ‘marked’ pigeon in the keeper’s pigeon loft awaiting its certain detection.

The simpler truth is far too inconvenient to some. Yet another gamekeeper persecuting raptors, in this case presumably to reduce grouse predation on a moor where the tennant  showcases his commercial heather restoration.

 Thankfully not so for Judge Goulbourn overseeing the first conviction (see her full judgement here ) or Judge Watson who presided over the appeal.

So why does this happen? It’s because RSPB Investigations working with the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service is the only dedicated team able to pull off these complex gamekeeper- related investigations and convictions, making us an obvious target.

When attempting to protect your name runs up a legal bill of tens of thousands of pounds, it’s the biggest back-handed compliment to the RSPB and our supporters possible.  Gamekeepers continue to be the fall guys, some being sacked, while the criminal elements in the shooting industry, who orchestrate these crimes, keep out of the limelight. Of over 100 gamekeepers convicted of raptor persecution offences since 1990 not one of their employers has had to face charges  in a court room.

In Scotland, through the recently-introduced vicarious liability clause there may be a time when we see  keepers and landowners in the dock together. We don’t have it in England yet but if you think we should then you can add your support here

So what next? We move on, we take the experience from this case and invest it along with our costs in the next operation, maybe in the Peak District again or elsewhere. After all, we have the element of surprise. Having filmed Brown for an entire week at less than 30 feet we can do it and we will continue to save nature – watch this space!


2 comments to RSPB witnesses put on trial in the unsuccessful appeal of gamekeeper Glenn Brown!

  • Alastair Henderson

    Having had the opportunity to read the full findings of the first case it would have rounded off this report to have made the full findings of the appeal available also.

    Editor’s Comment: Alastair having raised this issue with the court it seems no judgement finding were made or necessary. A full verbatim transcript of the appeal was recored but to obtain a copy one has to apply to the court, and IF a copy is provided there will be a cost. We are informed as the appeal findings did not alter the original judgement of June last year in any way just reinforced it, no judgement finding were required. We hope this answers your question?

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