SCOTTISH gamekeepers have claimed they have been subjected to “trial by media” following the latest disappearance of a tagged golden eagle.

It was revealed last week that transmissions from the tag worn by the bird, called Fred, suddenly stopped on January 21. They resumed three days later but ended after a further two days, with GPS data giving a final position 15 miles off Scotland’s east coast.

Fred had been tagged by wildlife broadcaster and environmentalist Chris Packham, pictured with a photograph of the bird, above, and the campaign group Raptor Persecution UK at a nest in the Borders last summer. Packham said after the GPS transmissions stopped: “Once again, we have the suspicious disappearance of a satellite-tagged golden eagle in an area managed for driven grouse shooting.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association said this potentially pointed the finger at gamekeepers when there was no evidence to that effect. A spokesman said: “Trial by media has already taken place. We need to find out the truth about what happened to this eagle.

“It is not enough for those in possession of the satellite tag evidence to walk away, after presenting their judgement to the media. Serious allegations have been made.”