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Fresh from latest high court loss Wild Justice request another £45k from their credulous supporters

At times you almost have to admire the brazenness of Wild Justice.

Chris Packham and his colleagues were recently dismissed in High Court in their attempts to secure a judicial review of Defra’s latest heather burning legislation in England, with Judge Ian Dove declaring their case did not have “an arguable basis.”

The upshot of Wild Justice’s efforts was not only the ignominy of having their review claim dismissed, but they were also told by the court to remunerate relevant parties for the costs and time sunk into the case. This meant £8,900 to Defra, and £1,100 to other parties of interest, a sum they agreed ought to be donated to the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust.

Not a great look for the organisation, which relies on the generosity of its supporters to fund its appeals against government decisions in court, and you might expect them to have their proverbial tails between their legs right now.

But no, on Friday Packham and his pals have announced another legal challenge they plan to undertake, this time against the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and their supposedly flawed general licenses.

Setting the issue of the licenses themselves aside for a moment, their shocking brazenness lies in their plea for the princely sum of £45,000 so that they can “pursue the case with confidence.”

It is frankly astonishing that straight from the jaws of one supporter-funded defeat – which we may not have seen the back of yet: Wild Justice have announced online their intent to appeal, funding permitting no doubt – Packham and company have the gall to implore their beleaguered following to dig into their pockets once more.

That they still intend to challenge DAERA ‘with confidence’ is almost commendable, given the emphatic nature of their recent courtroom defeat. Although one would hope just shy of 50 grand would be able to buy some bravado.

Now you could make the argument that it is their, and their supporter’s, prerogative to raise and contribute funds towards causes that they see fit, when they see fit. In principle, there is nothing to take issue with here.

The issue lies in the fact that their most recent case was dismissed, and Wild Justice sanctioned just shy of £10,000, because it was a waste of time. A waste of time for Defra, a waste of time for the interested parties, and a waste of time for the courts. And it still remains to be seen if they decide to follow through on their announcement and start the ordeal all over again with an appeal.

In the case of the heather burning legislation, their case was not ‘arguable’, not to mention ignorant to the reality of what controlled burning and moorland management can do for the environment long-term in wildfire prevention.

Packham’s latest pet project looks guilty of similar ignorance, as they criticize DAERA for overly relaxed rules towards Rook management. They call out the general licenses in Northern Ireland for allowing one to kill unlimited numbers of Rooks for conservation purposes and, much more vaguely, for just generally being “the worst in place anywhere.”

However, Rooks are incredibly commonplace birds in the UK, and by no means threatened (listed as ‘green’ conservation status by the RSPB). Meanwhile, they are known to prey upon the eggs and chicks of other, more endangered birds.

It smacks of another fools errand by Wild Justice, and an expensive one at that. People are perfectly entitled to fund whichever causes they deem to be worthwhile, but there is famously little sense in performing the same act over and over again hoping for a different outcome. Even less when that outcome involves wasting a lot of hardworking people’s time.


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