John Swift briefing 2010

After John Swift little talk to the DI meeting in May 2010 I wrote the two Lead Shot-gate articles you can find on this blog.

I publish this in the light that the LAG as a policy of openness, see term of reference.

From the Deer Initiative minutes May 2010


Lead in the food chain

John Swift (JAS) advised that the main Lead in Ammunition strategy group met on 26th April and was made up of representatives of the following organisations:

  • RSPB – Mark Avery
  • Gun Traders Association – John Batley
  • CLA – Adrian Gane
  • Countryside Alliance – Rob Gray
  • Universities Federation of Animal Welfare – James Kirkwood

Institute of Environment & Health – Len Levy

  • Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust – Debby Pain
  • GWCT – Steve Tapper

Defra provided the secretariat

JAS reported that the group had agreed that the process must be inclusive and open, and he underlined that it would proceed in an ordered and measured way.   JAS advised that there will be an opportunity for other organisations to become more involved as smaller sub groups.

JAS noted the following points:

  • Gathering evidence would be the first task and collating key information in a single place
  • A future stage may require new research to fill any knowledge gaps
  • Any information which originates from abroad must be applicable to the UK
  • The next meeting will take place on 28th May, at which point the group will regularise the sub groups for evidence gathering
  • The group will develop a risk assessment, and stakeholders will be involved in this exercise.
  • Only when specific risks have been assessed will sub groups be formed to look at mitigation – setting up the groups too soon will pre-judge the outcome.
  • The group will also look at new products and emerging technologies
  • An important element will be independent moderation – the progress report (due in 12 months time) must be based on evidence which can be peer reviewed.
  • it is anticipated that the website will be available by the end of the week and that the minutes of the previous meeting will be uploaded to the site as well as other information sources. The website is available at
  • JAS emphasised the importance of demonstrating openness and of involvement of interested parties.

The group is determined that outcomes will be rigorous and will deal with actual risks.

JAS referred to 2 studies which have been published recently which provide topical information

  • A scientific opinion on lead levels in food – European Food Standards Agency
  • Lead Bullet Fragments in Venison from Rifle-Killed Deer: Potential for Human Dietary Exposure– available on

JAS stressed the importance of retaining public confidence in food standards.

AM confirmed that Defra also have an open mind on the situation. Defra is working in conjunction with the FSA, with Defra’s interest in the topic based on the conservation and welfare of animals. AM also noted that Defra recognise that this was the start of a lengthy and detailed process to gather appropriate evidence.

In response to a question from CB, JAS advised that the website was designed and hosted by the BASC web team, but that it was not a BASC website.

In response to a question from NW, JAS clarified that the risk assessment would cover wildlife and human health.

In response to a question from DW, JAS advised that, if that stage is reached, any new UK research work would be part of an open tender process.

MS suggested contacting the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management at Middlesex University which provides a useful resource for risk management information and strategies.

EG suggested that if NE becomes involved at a later stage, if would be helpful to contact Ian Carter who is a bird specialist and has been involved in previous lead shot debates.

AM advised that Defra and FSA had made the decision not to involve other Government agencies in the main strategy group so that advice emerging from the group will be completely independent.

In response to a question from DK, JAS advised that the main strategy group is not a lobbying group

With reference to the RSPB publication on the subject, DK asked if the main strategy group has a view on external lobbying. JAS noted that peer reviewed scientific papers will be treated with respect, and it is not for the group to engage in considering whether or not such papers are relevant or accurate.

AM noted that the members of the main strategy group had agreed that they sat on the group as individuals in their own right for their knowledge and expertise; that they also represented their organisations, but that they must also take into account external views from within their own sector.

The group will issue single opinion press releases for consistency, but it was also recognised that it was likely that organisations will also issue press releases based on their own internal views.


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