Ivory trader fined just £1,375 for selling whale and dolphin bone

Wandsworth Guardian: Alick Brown had been illegally manipulating antique ivory Alick Brown had been illegally manipulating antique ivory

A Battersea man has been fined just £1,375 despite admitting to illegally trading ivory, whale and dolphin bone and marine turtle shell online.

Detectives from the Met Police's Wildlife Crime Unit began investigating Alick Brown, 30, from Worfield Street, Battersea, in May 2012 after Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) raised concerns about two companies.

The companies, Arctic Antiques and Ice Antiques, were being run by Brown under an assumed name and traded on eBay.

Officers first raided Brown's home address on September 7, 2012, where they recovered a number of items, including raw whale and dolphin bone and turtle shell, which it is illegal to trade under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Enforcement Regulations (COTES).

They also recovered a quantity of antique ivory and while it is not illegal to trade antique ivory that pre-dates 1947, Brown had been reworking it to create new items, such as walking stick handles and artwork.

To trade such reworked ivory is illegal, unless you have obtained permission from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Brown had made no attempt to do so.

The Wildlife Crime Unit's investigation also established that Brown had been advertising ivory as ox bone, which it is legal to trade, on eBay.

In order to combat the sale of ivory, eBay implemented a ban on its sale on the site but Brown advertised the ivory as ox bone in order to avoid detection from eBay.

Brown was charged on September 16, 2013, and pleaded guilty to three counts of selling/keeping for sale specimen of species listed in Annex A of COTES at Kingston Crown Court on Friday (January 24).

He was fined £250 per count and £550 in costs, plus £75 victim surcharge - a total of £1,375. He was also ordered to forfeit the items.

DC Louise Morris, of the Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "These regulations are in place to stop the threat to endangered animals.

"As long as people are trading in these animal parts, there will be an appetite for the animals to be killed.

"We are utterly committed to ensuring that anyone in London who is trading in endangered animal parts is stopped." The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has been working closely with the Metropolitan Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) since 20121, and is a member of Operation Charm 2, which focusses specifically on tackling the illegal trade in endangered species.

The WCU receives daily reports ranging from destruction of protected habitats to deliberate cruelty to animals and has seized over 30,000 endangered species items since 1995.

Alyx Elliott, WSPA Campaign Manager, said: "We welcome the news of this successful prosecution and hope that this will encourage Londoners to report similar crimes involving endangered species to the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit."

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