My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
Seven months ago, I blogged here that a Derbyshire gamekeeper, Glenn Brown, had been found guilty of attempting to illegally trap and kill birds of prey.
What I failed to report was that the gamekeeper later appealed this decision. However, yesterday, we heard that he lost his appeal and the Judge upheld his sentence of 100 hours community service while increasing his costs from £10,000 to £17,000.
I am delighted by this news. There is no place for illegal killing of birds of prey in 21st century Britain.
I am also delighted for all those involved in bringing this case to court including RSPB investigation staff who had to put up with sustained attacks on their integrity from the defence lawyers in both trials.
I am proud that RSPB has such dedicated and professional investigation staff. They work tirelessly with the police to bring these criminals to justice and this verdict sends a signal that those who illegally kill birds of prey will be caught and will be punished.
Crimes such as these illustrate links between driven-grouse shooting and the illegal killing of birds of prey. This is why industry leaders and employers need to do more to stamp out these crimes. It is an inconvient truth that since 1990 there have been over 100 gamekeepers convicted of crimes relating to the despicable persecution of birds of prey.
More needs to be done.
We believe that land managers and owners should be held legally accountable for any wildlife crimes that are committed by their staff, as is the case in Scotland. If you agree, please sign this petition calling for introduction of an offence for vicarious liability for raptor persecution. We shall be encouraging the Law Commission to give this serious consideration as part of its review of wildlife management legislation in England and Wales.
Finally, if you have not done so already, do read more about the investigation here.
I have signed - it would be good if everyone could spread the word and get more signatures. I recently signed an e-petition for something else and the figures soared in a matter of hours. It reached over 100,000 so it can be done and there is still time to reach the target. Please spread the word. I have shared this on twitter.
Looked tonight and less than 6,000,amazingly small number,it is not as if anyone is asking for £100.All anyone has to do is care about B O P and sign.
Thanks all - please do spread the word. We shall be thinking of more creative ways of promoting the petition soon.
Bob - I think it has been updated now. Having been peripherally involved in the RSPB's attempt to provide a real time counter, I have a small understanding of the complexity of this. However, you would have thought that Number 10 would be able to fix this.
More on this soon, folks...
Quite right daveGW,think Galatas was just suggesting that on the face of it the 100,000 signatures should in theory be relatively easy.Honestly have not looked at number lately but when I have looked been bitterly disappointed.
Yes well done Martin,RSPB and everyone involved in getting conviction,agree with every word of your blog and somehow we need to stop this killing.
Agree with Galatas we should easily get signatures but seems remarkable indifference on the part of RSPB members to sign in my opinion and sadly I am pessimistic of reaching the target as I guess lots of members maybe dislike B O P taking the birds in their gardens.
One question Martin, I signed this petition and going back to check on how high it has got find the numbers quoted the same as before I signed it.
I've signed the petition. and I'm sharing this on Facebook and my blog too - it shouldn't only be down to RSPB members!
With over one million RSPB members we could easily achieve the 100,000 signatures required to get this e-petition debated in parliament. Please everyone , sign it and bring it to the attention of all your friends and acqaintances.
Splendid news, I too have signed e-petition
That's excellent news Martin. There are really three links in the chain to protecting our wildlife, firstly, ensuring the necessary protection laws are enacted, secondly, ensuring they are enforced and thirdly, making sure the judicary take wildlife crime seriously and apply the tough, deterent penalties that are available. Of course, if any one of those links fails then wildlife protection is rendered ineffective. For sometime, I think links two and three have often seemed to be indequate but more recently , and hopefully, those links seem to be improving and this is an example of that. I would very much like to resoundly second your pride in the dedication and professionalism of the RSPB's investigation staff. They do an absolutely amazing job in very difficult and, probably, sometimes in threatening circumstances.
I have signed the e-petition on vicarious liability..