I was contacted yesterday (Wednesday 18th July) by one of the civil servants about the content of the petition which confirmed that I would be receiving their suggestions about the petition shortly. Things are probably moving forward. I will not be revealing any of the discussion but will wait until the petition wording is agreed, and will give details of the petition when it is published.
There is no hurry, as I have now ascertained that the next session of Parliament does not commence until September. By then I hope to have developed more posts ready to have my arguments finalised if I have to give evidence to the Petitions Committee and beyond. I’m content with what I could write even now, but I’m sure that there are more good arguments available.
The email arrived today (Thursday 19th July), and I shall respond after reading it carefully and collecting my thoughts.
I expect that the first hurdle will be the Petitions committee. I do not think I need to have all my apples in a row even by then. The second hurdle(s) if the first is passed will likely be the ECCLRC and/or the Justice Committee. At this stage I imagine other parties will be able to submit papers for consideration by the committee(s). Both the RSPB and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) are already aware of the petition as I sent a copy of my original petition to their representatives of both organisations, as they spoke at the Law Seminar in Aberdeen and I sent a copy to the speakers for whom I found an email address. The RSPB presentation was excellent, and gave me some references which I had never seen before. I do not expect SLE to support the petition, but I met both the representative of SLE and RSPB after the Seminar. My feeling, probably shared by many, is that the SLE representative seems a nice chap, but he is defending the indefensible. It is essential that my paper, which I assume I can submit, must be robust, understandable, and able to demolish any counter argument put forward about how the prosecution of wildlife crime is seen by COPFS. I do wish that even before (or if) my petition is approved for later incorporation in legislation at some stage I need to show that the COPFS reasoning is flawed, but the paper must also give strong reasons for the suggested changes.
As it is the duty of Parliament to set legislation, I do not expect that the Crown Office will have a paper, but they may be present in the background, and I personally would like to know their views some of which which were heard at a meeting of the ECCLRC in January of this year. I have sought their views previously without success.