Is the LAG fit for purpose?

Lead shot gate part 3 By Ian Summerell Gunmaker 2012

Is the LAG fit for purpose?

The Lead Ammunition Group has posted the latest minutes on their web site.

I have concerns that some of the very people we have been lead to believe are on our side as shooters have hidden agendas of their own and we have not been told the whole story regarding lead shot.

Two years ago I was given the minutes of the BASC Research Advisory Committee held on the 18th November 2009, in the hope that I would write a report for one of the shooting magazines.

The recommendation of the research advisory committee to the BASC Council was that members should anticipate a ban on lead ammunition sooner rather than later.


AP3 – MA to recommend to Council in January that bans on lead ammunition are anticipated sooner rather than later and that members should be prepared for early change.


At the next BASC council meeting, the minutes of which you can view online, only say that the minutes of the committee are noted.

From BASC council minutes Jan 2010.


C.1.1. To note the Minutes of the Research Advisory Committee Meeting held on 18th November, 2009


The Minutes of the Research Advisory Committee meeting were noted.

The recommendation was not voted on, so it has not been passed or rejected by the BASC Council. But, I believe that some members of the BASC staff are working to the minutes of the BASC Research Advisory Committee. They are also looking at rifle and air weapon ammunition.

At the same time John Swift was in communications with the labour Government Minster, Hilary Benn MP’s office about lead in ammunition. Huw Irranca-Davies replied to John Swift’s letter saying I recognise that this is a complex issue and note the concerns of the RSPB, the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust and yourselves.  I am not aware of any new research that has been conducted that shows that lead ammunition residues or spent lead shot is a real threat to the conservation of wildlife in general in England.”


Are the BASC working together with the RSPB and the WWT? It very much looks like it reading this.

The most important part of this letter is not the fact that BASC, WWT and RSPB are working together on this, it is that Huw says: “I am not aware of any new research.” So to get over this they are writing the new research themselves.

The WWT had a hand in the Harris report for the Food Standards Agency [FSA] and the BASC and WWT wrote the Cromie report on the Compliance with the environmental Protection (Restriction on the use of lead shot) (England) Regulations 1999, which has been shown to be unreliable.

At a Deer Initiative meeting when John Swift first became chairman of the Lead Ammunition Group [LAG] he gave us a talk about the LAG. His opening line was “There is lead in the food chain we have to find ways to reduce it”.

I was lead to believe that the BASC had to take over the secretariat of the LAG as the government had cut the funding. I later found out that this was misleading. The plan was for the civil service staff to set the committee up and then for the committee to take over the secretariat itself.

In July 2011 at the CLA Game Fair, I started my petition to say no to a wider lead ban for shooting. BASC staff told me that they had been told not to sign the petition, but they did so anyway. On the UCSW stand where I was collecting the signatures, Jeff Knot of the RSPB told me he was on the LAG and he wanted a copy of my Lead Shot-Gate report I had written for the Countryman’s Weekly.

I thought that all the LAG members should have a copy so I emailed the article to the LAG committee direct and asked them to pass it on to all its members. I had a reply from John Swift telling me that the LAG is only looking at peer reviewed scientific papers.

The interesting thing is that Jeff Knott was not a member of the LAG until December 2011 when the Minster appointed him to the committee.

In October last year the WWT was on the BBC news saying they wanted a total lead ban. I recorded it and uploaded the report onto my Youtube channel. So we have the BASC writing to the Minister, a BASC committee recommending members to expect a ban sooner rather than later and the WWT calling for a total ban and both sitting on the LAG.

The LAG was waiting for the Harris report for the FSA to come out before it finishes its work. The report was placed on the FSA web site and the FSA then published its own recommendations, leaving the LAG out in the cold.

That brings us up to the date of the last LAG minutes that can be seen on their web site. You can read the full text there, but here I will pick out some points I would like to comment on.

The minutes are numbered and in italics, my comments are in times roman type.

2.1. The Group was reminded that meetings are conducted strictly under the Chatham House Rule (issues may be discussed outside the meeting but unattributably).

If it is under Chatham House rules, why can we identify people within the minutes, the chairman John Swift, Prof Len Levy and Deborah Pain and that they can have secret meeting outside of the committee?

2.3. All agreed that the Terms of Reference continue to be fit for purpose.


So they have declared themselves “fit for purpose”.

3.2. The Chairman thanked Sir Barney White-Spunner and Mr Mark Tufnell, attending their first Group meeting for agreeing to join the Group; and also thanked all the supporting organisations who continue to support the representatives of the other stakeholder interests.

What is the idea of calling them Stakeholders? More meaningless management speak! Or is it part of Common Purpose?

3.4. The Chairman acknowledged that the Group had fallen behind the originally anticipated time line. He attributed this to the Group’s reliance on experts to do the work of producing risk assessments in their own time, and the need for the risk assessments to meet a very high standard and be properly peer reviewed; the high standard being essential to maximise the possibility for reaching consensus among conflicting interest groups.

So it was all planned and timed? Seems the desired outcome was pre-determined, and they are now whining because the desired outcome is proving difficult to factually establish as legitimate or viable?

3.6. The Chairman acknowledged that some of the public arguments, press and lobbying had been distracting for some; and he reminded the Group that members have a duty not to be distracted.

This is totally out of order. We are members of organisations that have an interest in shooting and our representatives are part of the LAG. We have a right to lobby our own committee members, as a reporter I have the right to question what is being done by the LAG. Sounds like not wanting facts or the truth to get in the way of the agenda to me. More common purpose management ideas?

3.9. The Chairman reported that he had given effort to promote compliance with lead shot regulations over wetlands across Europe as well as in UK. In reply to a question he identified workshops held with other European countries to raise awareness, and noted progress in the Republic of Ireland. He further reported that awareness has been raised that as yet non-compliant countries must take action.

So John Swift is now going around other EU countries telling them, they have to comply with the lead ban over wetlands!   “The Law is what we say it is” which is a lawless State.

What right has John Swift got to tell other countries what to do?

More common purpose management at work?

3.10. The view was expressed that non-compliance with the existing legislation in the UK was unacceptable. The meeting noted that there is a perception, based on significant experience, that coastal wildfowling clubs are already compliant and a multi-organisation campaign will soon be launched by the shooting sector to target wider audiences and ensure that they comply.

What proof? What significant experience? So wildfowler’s are good little boys, it’s the other inland shooters we have to target. If the LAG are only going to look at peer reviewed scientific papers, why are they using the WWT/ BASC report on Compliance?

4.4. The PERA Chairman expressed the view that it would have been preferable to have paid for independent scientific experts to conduct the risk assessments. However, this had not been an option and the stakeholder groups had nominated scientific experts to write draft the risk assessments and review the other risk assessments produced by Subgroup colleagues.


I note that the chairman of the PERA (that is the Primary Evidence and Risk Assessment (PERA) subgroup) Prof Len Levy has expressed a view to the committee. Which under Chatham House Rules he should not have been identified. It’s a total farce.
Overall view.
Its like the star trek ‘Borg’ “you will comply!” They are acting like they are working for a dictatorship. That might be how they see their role under the EU?

Is John Swift using his role within Face EU to forward the agenda of the EU, AEWA and the UN, with total disregard to BASC membership and British Shooting folk?

I have to question John Swift’s position as chairman of the LAG. Which master is he working for? I do not think it is the British shooting man or woman or even BASC members.

How can Deborah Pain of the WWT sit on the LAG any longer? She has already come out and said that she wants a total lead ban for all shooting in the UK. The evidence and work from papers of the WWT which Pain played a major role in, were used in the Harris report for the FSA. So now we have a person setting on a committee and writing and reviewing her own work.

Even the chairman of the PERA thinks it should not have been done this way. So the LAG  is UNFIT FOR PURPOSE!

Ian Summerell    Gunmaker


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