Saboteurs filmed in attack on anglers: Anglers face a new threat to their sport after saboteurs, some wearing wetsuits, spent five hours wrecking a fishing match. Peter Dunn reports

POLICE were called to a fishing match on the river Avon near Chippenham, Wiltshire, after 40 supporters of the Campaign for the Abolition of Angling (CAA) attacked a meeting organised by the Swindon Isis angling club.

About 50 competitors watched in astonishment as frogmen emerged from the water and emptied keep nets. Other demonstrators, some in small boats, blew hunting horns, beat dustbin lids under water and dragged ropes across the river to create waves.

The event, which was filmed for a new series of the Channel 4 access programme Free For All, drew angry complaints from club members that they had been 'set up' for the cameras. Peter Gilbert, chairman of the club, said later that a large pile of litter collected by the saboteurs and photographed by the London film company, Filmit Productions, had not been deposited by his members.

Davey Shephard, spokesman for the Bristol-based CAA, warned yesterday that the incident marked the beginning of a national campaign against anglers. Mr Shephard said that although the group had only 200 members it could call on support from thousands of hunt saboteurs. He said: 'Two of our supporters were assaulted after the cameras had left the Isis club match. One was pushed in the river, another was hit on the nose. It's possible their violence will increase but it wouldn't put us off sabotaging anglers. We want angling banned.

'Three reports since 1980, two of them by the University of Utrecht, say fish are capable of feeling fear and pain. Anglers say they just want to enjoy the countryside. We say they don't have to abuse fish to do that.'

The CAA says it has produced a video for schools called Angling: the Neglected Blood Sport, which features a live eel having its head chopped off.

Its newsletter, Pisces, draws attention to 'the bright side of the recession' - the bankruptcy of tackle shops.

Isis club members reacted angrily to the disruption of their match and the presence of cameras. 'It was a total set-up,' Mick Lansdown, 37, said. 'They showed up with this litter but I can take you down there now and it's one of the cleanest pieces of river in the country. And it's rubbish about the violence. Considering they were going round with sticks tapping people's fishing rods they'd paid pounds 150 for, I think the anglers behaved very well.'

Filmit's executive producer, John Sampson, declined to comment, but a Channel 4 spokesman yesterday denied allegations that the club had been targeted for the film. He said: 'CAA sent in a proposal that said there would be a disruption of this match on 17 January so it was clear that the demonstration had been planned and was going to take place anyway.'

Davey Shephard said: 'We wrote to Filmit and asked if they'd be interested in our issue. They asked us to outline what we'd do and we sent back a synopsis. If all you suggest to them is sitting in front of a camera talking, that probably hits the bin. At that point it was decided that the direction of the programme should be sabotaging a match rather than talking about it. There was a good chance it would have been sabotaged anyway but to be honest it was selected specifically for the film.

'The company came down a few days beforehand to check the venue, to make sure it was film-worthy and during that time we talked about what we wanted to get over on film.'

Peter Gilbert, the club chairman, said yesterday: 'I've heard of isolated incidents involving a few agitators at matches but in 20 years of angling there's been nothing on this scale. So far as I know this was the first and largest demonstration of its type in the country, a very big effort because the TV cameras were there.'

'I told my members afterwards that angling won a great victory on this day because members weren't provoked into violence. Having said that this sort of thing will have to be dealt with. You can't just sit around and let them get away with it because obviously the police aren't going to do anything.

'I'm totally non-violent but in future anglers will have to organise a group which would have the right to eject saboteurs with a minimum of force. This would be the right way to nip it in the bud.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own