Guy’s Shorrocks blog fits a nice piece of a jigsaw puzzle together for me.
Guy shows a photo of a man on a moor with a ring-tailed Hen Harrier tucked under his arm.
The previously missing jigsaw piece for me was that this photo had a video time stamp of 6th July 2000. This led me to do some digging. I don’t know why his face is hidden as this RPSB page shows his face and his name and the details of the crime: Douglas Ross gamekeeper on Craigmill Estate, Morayshire who was found guilty in May 2001 of shooting the young female Hen Harrier in July 2000 at Mill Buie, Dallas, near Forres, Morayshire and was fined £2000.
This reminded me of a BBC piece on Inside Out from 2013 where Martin Gillibrand, lawyer and Secretary for the Moorland Association, smugly declares, when satellite-tagged ‘Bowland Betty’ was found shot on a grouse moor, that ‘there hasn’t been a single instance of prosecution of a gamekeeper for killing Hen Harriers. There is no evidence of it.’
Then the BBC piece shows a clip of a man on a moor with a gun and a ring-tailed Hen Harrier tucked under his arm. Freeze framing shows the words ‘RSPB Surveillance Video 2000’.
The man with the Hen Harrier is at 6.09 in but watch the whole clip if you want to hear the full Gillibrand spiel.
The photo on Guy’s blog and the BBC clip are by coincidentally wearing exactly the same clothes and both have a Hen Harrier tucked under their arm and both appear to be from 2000. It looks amazingly like Douglas Ross.
The things that stand out for me were:
1. The average viewer would not know what he was watching apart from the fact that it was obviously supposed to be relevant. When I first saw it I had to get the youtube clip and had to freeze frame the clip to see the tail of the Hen Harrier sticking out. Why didn’t the BBC say what was happening or freeze frame it and show the Hen Harrier tail.
2. The average (or less than average) viewer would not know this man was a gamekeeper
3. Why didn’t the BBC point out that they were showing a clip of the killing of a Hen Harrier
4. Why didn’t the BBC point out that the man in the clip was convicted or if against the odds of about a billion to one, it was not the same man, why didn’t they explain why he wasn’t?
5. Even without the video clip the BBC could have pointed out that Douglas Ross was convicted in May 2001 for killing a Hen Harrier in July 2000. That would have shown Gillibrand to have been lying or at the very least, rather forgetful. I somehow doubt that a lawyer and Secretary for the Moorland Association would have forgotten that particular conviction especially in light of the pat-on-the-wrist fine which must have been a cause for celebration in the world of the driven-grouse shooting lobby
I really can’t get my head around this. A spokesperson for the Moorland Association was ‘going beyond the truth’ i.e. Blairing on the BBC and the BBC appear to be hiding the fact. The whole programme was extremely good but somehow they just couldn’t, in our era of false balance, go in for the final blow. Why?