Sissen wins right to review

"Sissen wins right to review". A report in the issue of Cage and Aviary Birds dated 13th March 2004

Rare parrot breeder Harry Sissen has won the right to apply for a judicial review of a decision ordering him to forfeit 144 of his birds.

At a High Court hearing in London, Mr Justice Mitting granted him permission to commence proceedings for a judicial review of the verdict,which prevented the return of l00 of his birds.

Mr Sissen’s grounds for seeking a review were that vital documentary evidence was lost in transit between a magistrates court hearing he won and a crown court appeal that went against him.

He also claims errors of law were made by the judge in imposing a penalty out of proportion to the evidence, and that the appeal case was heard by a judge with prior knowledge of him, having sent him to prison three years before. He was granted the first two grounds but denied the third - that Judge Guy Whitburn should not have heard the case for reasons of bias.

His counsel also argued that the seizure of the most endangered birds from his aviaries during the breeding season in 1998 amounted to a violation of his human rights. However, Customs and Excise argued that legitimately bred birds had been used by him to conceal illegally smuggled birds in his aviaries, making forfeiture of all 100 birds appropriate.

The case in question took place in June last year, when Judge Guy Whitburn QC presided over the confiscation appeal hearing at Newcastle Crown Court.

Previously, District Judge Ray Anderson had found in favour of Mr Sissen at Richmond Magistrates’ Court in November 2002, deciding that the birds had been lawfully obtained, and ordering them to be returned to him.

They include some of the rarest ’sn the world, including Illiger’s macaws, a kea parrot, Goffin’s cockatoos, hawk-headed parrots, red-vented cockatoos, palm cockatoos, citron-crested cockatoos, Moluccan cockatoos, red-fronted Amazons and caninde macaws.

The 65-year-old North Yorkshire farmer, who has enlisted the help of local MP and former leader of the Conservative Party William Hague in his fight for justice, said he was delighted by the decision.

He said: "For ten minutes Pat and I could hardly speak when we heard. We were in. shock. I had tears in my eyes."

A date has yet to be set for the full hearing, which will take place before the Divisional Court in London.

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 " Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "

( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)