Six-years of wrongful pain and grief finally ended for a trawler owner as a D&S IFCA prosecution thrown out of Court. Photo: Sarah Ready

The Chief Officer of the D&S IFCA says missing pages of Judgement on ‘Stella Maris’ case was not intentional to and was an administrative error. Photo: Sarah Ready

The Chief Officer of the Devon and South IFCA has denied that there was any attempt by the IFCA to mislead the public in relation to a Judgement the publication on the D&S website.

The fishing industry had been warned been that an article appearing on the Devon & Severn IFCA website in relation to a court case was incorrect.

Sarah Ready, who was part of the defence in the case of Jack Baker, owner of Brixham-based fishing vessel “Stella Maris”, was wrongfully prosecuted for fishing in a Marine Protected Area over six years ago, had alerted the industry that the IFCA had made changes to the full Judgement on the case from HHJ Linford by removing two pages in relation to vessel monitoring and doctored the remaining pages to appear as if it is the complete Judgement.

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Ms Ready said:

“Please be aware that the Court Case news currently advertised on the Devon & Severn IFCA website, dated 13th October, is not correct. Two pages of the Court Order have been removed by the IFCA, those relating to vessel monitoring that are undesirable to the IFCA, the remaining pages numbered so that it appears a full complete Order, and uploaded on the IFCA website, therefore being passed off as a full Court Order.

“The Court as part of its findings stated that the Prosecution (Devon IFCA) accepted that the Gloucester case (in 2018) did involve the EXCLUSIVE deployment of VMS evidence. This has been removed from the Court Order published on the Devon IFCA website and therefore the Court Order is in no way reflective of the Order that HHJ Linford made.

“I have this week made a complaint to the Court regarding the alteration of the published Court Order, together with a letter to the Secretary of State regarding the conduct of this IFCA.

“Please take this as notice, that the news post on the Devon & Severn IFCA website is defective, inaccurate, misleading and is not a reflection of the actual Order made. Devon IFCA have removed two pages that relate to vessel monitoring findings before numbering the pages, and publishing.”

The Fishing Daily enquired with the D&S IFCA into the incident. Chief Officer, Mat Mander replied saying:

“I can confirm that on 5th November 2022, D&S IFCA was made aware that an incomplete copy of HHJ Linford’s Judgement had been placed on D&S IFCA’s website. The incomplete Judgement was uploaded on 21st October 2022 and was replaced with the full Judgement on 6th November 2022. The same copy of the complete Judgement that now appears on the website had been forwarded by D&S IFCA to AIFCA, Defra and D&S IFCA Members prior to the incomplete Judgement being posted on the website. Due to the poor quality of the copy of the Judgement, D&S IFCA had looked to improve the presentation for the website by attempting to make a new copy of the Judgement. It turns out that during that process two consecutive pages of the Judgement were not included.  It is suggested that the posting of the incomplete Judgement was deliberate, but it was the unfortunate result of an administrative error.”

Replying to the statement from the D&S IFCA, Sarah Ready said, “What I cannot understand is how you have managed to number the pages as a complete document, after removing the two pages, which refer to VMS?”  

Ms Ready said that the actions of the D&S IFCA is exceptionally concerning and has written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Fisheries APPG raising several issues.

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