North Yorkshire Worker Shot During Grouse Shoot

A North Yorkshire landowner has been fined after a worker was accidentally shot and blinded in one eye during a grouse shoot.

Jim Harding, 61, was hit by a shotgun pellet while he was working as a “flanker” on the Danby Estate, where he had worked for more than 30 years.

The role involves keeping the grouse in the shooters’ path as they target the game birds.

However, Mr Harding was not properly in position when they shooting began and was not wearing his safety glasses. Although he was directly in the firing line, the gunmen were unable to see him.

The pellet severed his optic nerve and may still be lodged in the eye.

The Trustees of the Danby Moor Settlement, of Wykeham, were handed a £2,250 fine and ordered to pay £4,486 in costs by Scarborough Magistrates Court after admitting breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

“Had the estate carried out an effective risk assessment, they could have taken some simple precautions to prevent this injury,” said Health and Safety Executive inspector Julian Franklin.

“The simple fact is that you should never stand in front of a man with a gun, especially if he can’t see you.”

However, the Countryside Alliance said that was a “sweeping and impractical statement”, while estate manager Robert Sword described the prosecution as “silly”.

Speaking in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Sword said it was an extremely unfortunate accident caused by extraordinary circumstances and Mr Harding had remained in his job.

The estate is headed by Richard Henry Dawnay, the 12th Viscount Downe, whose family have owned it since the 17th Century.

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