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SSPCA ‘ideology’ could mean it makes unsafe convictions

SSPCA’s new powers could compromise criminal investigations.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has been granted new investigatory powers that could compromise the independence of criminal investigations involving grouse moors. 

BASC has written to Police Scotland and the Crown Office, urging them to closely monitor and guard against the potential for bias in any evidence gathered by the charity. It fears that SSPCA’s actions might lead to unsafe convictions. 

The SSPCA has a longstanding opposition towards shooting that could prejudice investigations, compromising Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As the SSPCA’s powers are enhanced, BASC is seeking reassurance that criminal investigations will proceed with independence, integrity and objectivity. 

BASC Scotland director Peter Clark commented: “BASC opposes granting statutory investigatory powers to the SSPCA and these representations were made throughout the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill discussions. 

“BASC is concerned that giving a charity both investigatory and lobbying powers creates a significant conflict of interest.” 

Mr Clark added that BASC “finds it difficult to reconcile the duty to pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry throughout a criminal investigation with the SSPCA’s strongly stated ideological opposition to lawful activities”.