Police confirmed last night they are investigating allegations of illegal snare traps being laid at a top West estate.
The exclusive Polesdon Estate, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, is frequented by royal and former cabinet ministers, who attend pheasant shoots hosted by the former chairman of English Heritage, Sir Jocelyn Stevens.
But a trio of animal welfare organisations claimed last night that, following a lengthy investigation, they uncovered evidence of illegal “dragpole” snares being laid to trap natural predators.
The three groups, Animal Aid, the National Anti-Snare Campaign and the League Against Cruel Sports, passed their dossier of evidence, including photographs, to Wiltshire Constabulary, which said last night that it was still investigating the claims.
The Polesdon Estate counts among its “guns” King Constantine of Greece, the Queens cousin Angus Ogilvy and Lord Rothschild.
Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said: “Some of the richest people in the land shoot there. The snares we found weren’t illegal, but they were illegally set.
“Having a 4ft long pole attached to the snare means it is not fixed and breaches the Wildlife and Countryside Act.”
But last night Sir Jocelyn Stevens denied the snares had been set by his employees and accused the animal rights activists of planting them.
He claimed: “Someone came along and dumped them and then phoned up the police and told them where to look.”
He insisted: “I would have been worried if they had come from someone on the estate, but this is completely untrue. I wouldn’t do that sort of thing.”