When I submitted the petition I did not know about the video evidence of a possible offence on Tillypronie Estate.
This information came into the public domain on Monday 2nd April 2018 in an article published by the Guardian
This fits into the same category as the failed prosecutions which involved video evidence.
The possible offence took place in March 2014. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) issued a personal restriction in September 2017.
I do not know who the person is, and do not want to know.
I would like to know the following to assist in my understanding, which I will explain.
Was he charged by the police?
My understanding is that a report would go to the Procurator Fiscal, who would decide whether to prosecute the person arrested.
At that time the person would be required to attend court if the matter is charged at Summary Level (heard before a Sheriff only) then there would be a ‘Pleading Diet’ to tender their plea.
At this stage the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 requires that a trial is commenced within 12 months of the first appearance of the accused on petition in respect of the offence.
I assume that if the prosecution was started that information would be in the public domain, and the public would have known. I was not aware of a case going through the courts. It could be that a reporting restriction was placed on the court case, which seems strange as I can think of no reason this could have happened in an offence of this nature.
Did the police report the possible offence to Scottish Natural Heritage, once a decision had been taken not to prosecute, under the information sharing protocol? The information sharing protocol is mentioned in this document.
As the personal restriction was only handed down in September 2017 it is reasonable to assume that something was going on in the intervening 3 years.
Is it correct that the COPFS seems to have taken over 3 years to decide whether to prosecute?
If that is the case then this case should be examined in the same way as the other 2 cases, as they were decided together or very close together before May 2017.
Is the decision in this case guiding the other 2 cases, which, although each is required to be decided on its own merits, are so similar that a different decision in one case could not be explained?
Why was this person handed a personal restriction on the General licence?
Scottish Natural Heritage have on their website a document entitled “General Licence Restrictions – Framework for Implementing Restrictions”
I have read this several times. When combined with the possibly correct information from the Guardian I have concluded that the person could have been handed a personal restriction because by the time the police had informed SNH of the offence the owner of the estate at the time of the offence had sold the estate.
Because there is no information in the public sphere, as none of these cases have been decided in court, although only the Tillypronie case has been kept as a state secret, the reasons that this case has not come to court is impossible to decide. It only makes it more imperative for the Crown Office to permit cases to come to court to allow these matters to be decided in a more public forum.
Addendum. In England and Wales, there is a memorandum of understanding published by PAW containing 4.4“Police forces will identify wildlife crimes when they are submitted to the CPS for decision and that all cases within the National Wildlife Crime Priorities (save for poaching which will be dealt with by local arrangement) should be referred to the CPS for a charging decision. This will ensure that the CPS regional Wildlife Coordinator will be aware of ongoing investigations and cases.“ I cannot find a similar document for Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Scotland.
It may add to the probability however, that the gamekeeper was not charged due to an intervention from COPFS, even if the police believed they had enough evidence to charge an individual. The memorandum of understanding postdates the decision in the Tillypronie case, and allows in England a similar decision to be made, where it is considered “sensitive”.