Keith Arthur: You need to get your facts right

They say there is no fool like an old fool and Roy Webster, angling columnist for the Eastern Daily Press, falls into that category. In fact the older he gets the more foolish he makes himself look because his exaggerations simply get bigger.

I think he has a bit of a personal thing against John Wilson ¬ maybe because they live in the same part of the country and jealousy could play a role. Whatever it is, Webster’s vitriol printed regularly in his column really destroys every bit of his credibility as a journalist.

He seems to be anti-Angling Trust, especially since John Wilson became involved in supporting it. Now he has printed an absolutely fabricated story about a ‘leaked report’ that the Trust will be “...attaching a £1 levy to the fishing rod licence.”

Now I make no secret of wishing it could be. But then again I am not running the Angling Trust, nor am I on the board, and nor will I ever be. I’m just an angler that wants to be properly represented.

I expect the Trust will come up with its own denial but this could well be an ‘are you still beating your wife?’ scenario. Well, Mr Webster, if you are reading this, here are some facts that remove all credibility from your story.

l First: The rod licence applied by the EA, a Government agency, is a tax and as such cannot be apportioned outside the Government.

l Second: The Angling Trust board and CEO have made it abundantly clear that should such a levy be offered it would be refused because the Trust actually represents anglers in conflict against the EA and any funding by it could compromise that situation.

l Third: Sea anglers aren’t licensed so they wouldn’t be contributing at all. I know very few of them contribute now but still are represented. If a levy was brought into play they wouldn’t pay anything.

l Fourth: The EA Rod Licence applies in England and Wales. Wales has its own governing bodies which are not incorporated into the Angling Trust, so any levy could not include them.

Now some other lies that were in Webster’s piece. He says that an ‘insider’ told him the Trust receives (and this is a quote) “...substantial grant aid and donations”.  Complete rubbish! Fish Legal has donations and always has, as the ACA, but its funding is completely separate from the Angling Trust.

There is no ‘grant aid’ for angling except to the EA, to support what we pay for rod licences.

Next lie is that membership in 2009 “ reported to have peaked at nearly 12,000.” Well, unless 14,700, the reported figure, is considered to be ‘nearly 12,000’ that’s nonsense too.

Mr Webster: you may not like the Angling Trust but you are a reporter paid to report, not make up complete and utter nonsense to fill your column. If you would like to debate the matter, I am entirely at your disposal either through Angling Times or on air through my radio show. The ball is in your court.

Now if I’m wrong, go ahead and sue me. I absolve Angling Times from all responsibility.