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Thursday, 22 April 2010

A world policed by half-wits

As you can imagine, nobody is keener on the protection of birds than I am.

But some friends we can really do without, as I was reminded when I read the following by that great scourge of buffoons, Richard Ingrams, in The Independent

A few years ago, a Liverpool man, Steven Harper, was prosecuted for selling a stuffed owl on the internet auction site eBay. As the proud possessor of a stuffed owl, once a popular ornament in Victorian times, I experienced a moment of panic. Could I too be prosecuted? Or would that happen only if I tried to sell the owl?

Mr Harper, it turned out, was lucky to get away with a conditional discharge, while a spokesman for Merseyside police, keen to uphold the rights of dead stuffed owls, warned that ‘the legislation is in place to protect endangered species whether an animal is alive or dead’.

Or even, it seems, if it never existed in the first place - if another case reported this week is anything to go by. A Northumberland auctioneer, Mr Jim Railton, was not as lucky as Mr Harper. He was prosecuted and fined £1,000 for putting a collection of 100-year-old birds' eggs (many of them broken) up for sale. In addition he must pay a “victim's surcharge” of £15, though who the victim is or was has not been made clear.

Who is behind these farcical prosecutions? I suspect the hand of the militant Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the same organisation that has helped to fill the sky over my house with menacing red kites. It may well be time for the Queen to consider whether such an organisation as the RSPB should continue to be allowed to use the prefix “royal”

What I wonder is to what degree the national crime rate is directly related to the deplorable stupidity of the police, and the fact that prosecuting people for inane reasons is a damn sight easier than catching drug-dealers - and makes the statistics look slightly less disastrous.

On balance, though, it is clear that if you have an educational system in ruins you are going to produce a generation that cannot think.

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