TV angler and wife quit conservation group in row over fund use

A A A

To millions of armchair anglers, Bob James is the face of British fishing. Starring in the television series,
Passion for Angling, he steered 18 million devotees through the intricacies of spinners and the joys of casting into a still pond on a dewy morning.

To millions of armchair anglers, Bob James is the face of British fishing. Starring in the television series, Passion for Angling, he steered 18 million devotees through the intricacies of spinners and the joys of casting into a still pond on a dewy morning.

When he joined forces with the Anglers' Conservation Association, the respected body which for 55 years has quietly gone about its business of prosecuting polluters of Britain's watercourses, it was assumed to be a good omen for the nation's most popular participation sport.

Not any more. Ripples of consternation ran through the sedate world of British angling yesterday after it was announced that Mr James and his wife Jane, the ACA's director for 18 years, were leaving the organisation after an argument over allegations against them of misconduct.

The high-profile departures were described as a blow to the prestige of the ACA, whose patron is the Duke of Edinburgh, and whose president is Chris Tarrant, the presenter of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Other celebrities are among its 13,000 members.

In a terse statement, the ACA announced that the Jameses and its trustees had decided "that is in the best interests of the sport of angling that they should part company and have agreed to do so by way of mutual agreement".

The details of the dispute and the severance terms were last night the subject of a binding confidentiality agreement.

But The Independent has learnt that prior to their departure the couple were the subject of an internal investigation after a range of accusations were levelled against them, including the alleged theft of a 90p stamp and benefiting from a £400 printing bill.

The allegations threaten to split the world of angling, which has four million active participants who each spend an average of £1,000 a year on their hobby, making it one of the most lucrative sports in the country.

Friends of Mr James, whose partnership with fellow angler Chris Yates in BBC2's Passion for Angling made them Britain's best-known fishermen as they toured the nation, yesterday described the claims as "ludicrous".

One colleague, a senior figure in angling, said: "Bob and Jane have dedicated many years to the ACA and they have been effectively hounded out on trumped-up charges.

"One claim was that Bob stole a stamp worth less than a pound. It's ridiculous given that over the years he has given many hours beyond his contract and thousands of pounds worth of equipment in the name of the ACA."

It is understood that Mr James, who worked three days a week as the ACA's press officer, attended a disciplinary hearing last month at the body's headquarters at Leominster, Herefordshire, to answer questions about the £400 printing bill for leaflets advertising his fishing business.

Sources familiar with the case said that the couple had been "naïve" in allowing the leaflets to be printed but insisted there had been no dishonesty. The ACA declined to comment on whether its disciplinary committee had formally found against the couple.

Mr James, 47, said yesterday he was saddened by the episode, after eight years working with the ACA, and that he had fallen foul of a wider jealousy in the world of angling. Fishing yesterday with his close friend Mr Tarrant, he said: "Both my wife and I are very sad that it came to this. We absolutely deny that we did anything wrong. But there are lots of people out there who have become green-eyed monsters.

"They see what I did on TV and they become jealous. Among the more ridiculous -rumours I've had to deal with is that my wife and I are so wealthy that we own Range Rovers with matching number plates. Actually I own a five-year-old Saab."

The fisherman, who found himself in the pages of The News of the World eight years ago when his affair with Jane and their subsequent marriage was made public, said he would now be concentrating on writing, and a new television project.

But there were signs of further fall-out from the argument for the ACA after at least one member of its governing council, Mick Watson, resigned this week over the affair.

Mr Watson has joined ACA members calling for an emergency general meeting about the direction of the body, which was founded in 1949 to seek compensation for fisheries affected by pollution and other forms of damage. It has so far won more than 2,000 cases, netting damages worth more than £2m.

Mr Watson said: "A lot of people are angry and concerned that the ACA is being distracted from its true purpose. Events like those of this week do not help that impression."

The ACA dismissed the claim. Karen Capper, the body's head of legal affairs, said: "Any suggestion we are in decline could not be further from the truth. We are continuing to defend the interests of anglers and go from strength to strength."

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone