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Last Updated: Friday, 24 August 2007, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Men fined for bluebell bulbs sale
Darren Woods (L) and Richard Japheth
Darren Woods and Richard Japheth said no money exchanged hands
Two men have been fined 7,000 for selling 200,000 wild bluebell bulbs in one of the first cases of its kind.

Richard Japheth, of Llanaelhaearn on the Llyn Peninsula and Darren Woods, from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, said no money exchanged hands.

But Pwllheli magistrates accepted that "bartering" between the men was a sale.

While anyone is allowed to pick endangered bluebells to display at home or collect bluebell bulbs to plant in their garden, they cannot be sold.

Both men admitted breaching the Wildlife and Countryside Act by selling or possessing for purpose of sale live or dead plants.

The court heard that Woods, who runs Eurobulbs in East Anglia, had offered to clear bracken from Japheth's land in exchange for the bluebell bulbs.

Bluebells are a unique case under the Wildlife and Countryside Act

The company had used Polish labour and there had been local complaints about the removal of the bluebells.

Aled Jones, representing Japheth, pointed out that had a tractor been used to tear up the bracken and the bluebells had been uprooted and left to die there would have been no offence.

While no money had exchanged hands and it was a "barter" between the two men, which the prosecution argued amounted to a sale.

The pair told the court they had taken advice from government conservation agencies and been told it was fine to go ahead.

But a later investigation revealed that the arrangement was not legal as, in law, bartering amounts to a sale.

Bluebells are a unique case under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The maximum penalty is 5,000 per bulb and as this case involved 200,000 bulbs, the fine could have been as much as 1bn.

Woods, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, was fined 5,000 and Japheth was fined 2,000. Both were also ordered to pay 200 costs each.

Hear a police officer explain how the case has helped clarified the law.

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