The RSPB and Mark Avery lose ANOTHER costly legal battle, this time over Hen Harriers
Headlines of legal battles lost for Mark Avery, a founder of activist group Wild Justice, have become increasingly frequent in recent weeks.
But perhaps none have been quite so significant as the most recent one, heard in the Court of Appeal, following his decision to appeal a previous judgement against Natural England’s Brood Management scheme.
When the case was first heard in 2019 the judge’s decision was unequivocal, saying: “There is simply no evidence to support the claimants submission that NE is seeking to circumvent the overall statutory purpose of conservation of an endangered species” and, “The RSPB has not been able to identify any material information that was not available to the assessors and appears to have misread the conclusions reached in the report”.
Despite this Mark Avery, along with the RSPB, decided they would challenge this decision which would take further resources designated for charitable objectives to be used for legal proceedings.
Martin Harper, the former Director of Conservation of the RSPB and now a Board Advisor at The Real Wild Estates Company, wrote at the time: “We felt entirely justified in [taking legal action] on this occasion”. Whatever advise they have followed was clearly dubious, for the judge’s could not have been clearer in their judgements on both occasion.
What makes Mark Avery and the RSPB seem even more ridiculous in their pursuit of this case is the fact that hen harrier numbers have already increased 800% in recent years in the UK.
It is not yet known just how much public money has been used to take on this challenge by Mark Avery and the RSPB, nor is it yet known what the RSPB members may think of their executives of the charity choosing to spend so much public money on a legal challenge that, ultimately, sought to prevent the reintroduction of a species largely because of a political agenda against grouse shooting.
Had Martin Harper not already left the RSPB it would be assumed his position at the charity would have been untenable as a consequence of this. No doubt his current employers, Birdlife and The Real Wild Estates Company, will have taken note of recent legal decisions.
Under Harper's watch at the RSPB the lengths the organisation went to to sabotage the southern reintroduction were revealed last year.
[Martin Harper, on a protest march with League Against Cruel Sports]
It is also likely the Charity Commission will take particular notice on how the public charitable funds are being chosen to be spent.
The case also reinforces the closeness between Mark Avery’s Wild Justice and the RSPB. Although some in the senior management of the RSPB have sought to publicly distance themselves from the activist group made up of Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay, the close links they enjoy are clearly apparent. Indeed, Chris Packham remains Vice President of the RSPB.
Perhaps this latest legal loss might finally make these individuals think twice about putting personal vendettas against those from moorland communities ahead of proper charitable principles and what is ultimately best for the birds they are meant to be responsible for.