Fishery bosses who ban Eastern European anglers from entering their venues could face jail following a landmark case in Scotland this week.
Andrew Jackson, owner of Orchill Loch in Dunblane, has been charged by police with ‘acting in a racially aggravated manner’ after a Polish angler complained about the way he had been treated by the fishery manager.
The incident stemmed from a phone call Mr Jackson received in September from the angler, who was enquiring about a day’s coarse fishing at Orchill Loch.
Mr Jackson informed the man he wasn’t welcome at his venue, and thought nothing more of it. Two months later however, he was informed by the Central Scotland Police that he could be forced to pay a hefty fine or face a spell behind bars of up to six months as a result of his actions.
When contacted by Angling Times, a police spokesperson said: “We can confirm a 62year-old man is being reported to the Procurator Fiscal. He has been charged under the Criminal Law Act 1995 with acting in a racially aggravated manner. It is now up to the Procurator Fiscal what action will be taken.”
Some believe the case could open the floodgates for similar charges to be brought against those fishery bosses who have taken a similar stance to Mr Jackson, none of whom have so far been brought to book over their contentious rulings.
However, one such fishery owner, Tony Booth from Trentside Fishery near Scunthorpe, is adamant that he will maintain his stance despite the threat of jail.
“My rules are staying in place. There is no way I’m standing for Eastern Europeans stealing my fish. If they want me, they know where I am, and I am willing to suffer any consequences of my actions. I don’t think poachers or the authorities have the bottle to challenge me, but if it came down to it I would stand my ground, even if that means going to jail.”
His sentiments were echoed by Billy Evans, boss of Field Farm Fishery, in Bicester, Oxon who, like Tony Booth, erected a sign informing Eastern European anglers they were not welcome.
He was equally defiant, saying “I will never give in. I used to have a lot of poaching problems before the signs went up, but none whatsoever since. Everybody talks about offending the human rights of these people ¬ what about our human rights? We need to stand up for our right and stick together. I’ll go to jail for my beliefs if I have to.”
Wojtek Tuzynsik, spokesman for the Federation of Poles ¬ a group tasked with defending the interests of the Polish ethnic minority in Great Britain¬ said that while he sympathised with the fishery owners, not all East European anglers should be tarred with the same brush.
“We support people protecting their businesses, but the fisheries should take each person on an individual basis and not ban anglers just because they are Polish. They should be promoting fishing, not putting people off,” he said.