In addition to launching Operation LEVIATHAN in partnership with the Angling Trust, Cheshire Police secured a conviction in Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court on the 11th June 2015 when sponsored carp angler Myles Gibson was found guilty of a Schedule 1 Theft Act offence for fishing without permission at Tatton Park. Mr Gibson received a £240 fine, £620 costs and a criminal record.

Gibson was accused of illegally catching the 52lb Common Carp known as Jim’s Carp at Tatton Mere on 5 August 2014. Gibson had pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing.

This case has been ongoing since last September. Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE has worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, and Environment Agency to provide clarity on the legal position. This case has already made the national papers, and PC Jim Day of Cheshire Police was interviewed on BBC regional news last night.

You can watch the article on BBC North West Tonight at
The piece starts at 3m 15s.

It was reported by the BBC that Mr Gibson climbed over farmer’s fences in the early hours of the morning, negotiated a 12ft hedge and ignored “no access” signs to reach the mere on private land owned by the National Trust where he fished from a reserved area which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

When interviewed on BBC North West Mr Gibson appeared to make light of the issue and claimed “I just went fishing, caught a fish”. However, the law is clear that this is a criminal offence and those found guilty will be punished, regardless of their status in the angling world or the support that they receive from bait and tackle companies.

Anglers are clearly of the same view with a strong response on social media today and suggestions that Mr Gibson has received his just desserts – and that his sponsors should review their support of this angler who fished illegally and consequently now has a criminal record for poaching.

Dilip Sarkar commented: “Historically, poaching – fishing without permission – has been seen by some as culturally acceptable and perhaps romantic; it is not, in fact – it is actually a criminal offence. In the past fishery owners have largely been impotent in dealing with this issue – due to confusion over the law and a lack of awareness. Our Fisheries Enforcement Campaign has changed all that, firmly cementing this issue within the wider frameworks of Rural, Wildlife, Business, Hate and even Organised Crime. Today, angling clubs and small businesses are being negatively affected by those not paying their way, and due to issues arising over cultural differences with Eastern European migrants, who take fish for the pot contrary to and in ignorance of our laws, British anglers, especially high profile ones like Mr Gibson, have a moral responsibility to set the right example – and we must all understand that enforcement is delivered without fear or favour, regardless of status or ethnicity. Times have changed – confirmed by this and other court results. Responsible anglers everywhere welcome this – and we commend PC Jim Day in particular of Cheshire Police for his tenacity in securing this conviction. We look forward to working closely with the force on Operation LEVIATHAN – the biggest multi-force, multi-agency, operation so far to target illegal fishing and fish theft.”

Senior Crown prosecutor Bev Dobson, prosecuted the case for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service and said: “This case was an important one for the fishing industry.

“The protection and maintenance of the nation’s fishing stocks are important and it is essential that anglers fish only in areas that are either public or that they have permits for.

“Mr Gibson clearly shouldn’t have been fishing in Tatton Mere by Dog Wood and the way he got to the area, by traversing fields and climbing over a fence in the middle of the night, shows he knew that he shouldn’t have been there.

“As a highly experienced angler he would have known that he was flouting the regulations but he did so for the thrill of landing the special fish which he had persistently baited over a period of months.

“Many people get a lot of pleasure out of angling but it is and must be a regulated sport or rare species and fish stocks would be at risk.”

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency work in partnership with the police to crack down on unlicensed fishing. We urge anyone to report illegal activity by calling 0800 80 70 60.”

The investigation was sparked by an article in the Angling Times picturing Gibson with a 52lb Common Carp. Tatton Park’s ranger saw the article and contacted police.

Wildlife officer PC Jim Day, who investigated the allegation, said on the day of the sentencing: “As a professional angler Gibson has a responsibility to abide by the law. The result today has seen justice for the victims and reinforces the commitment of Cheshire Constabulary and the Police & Crime Commissioner to tackling rural crime.

“This was a complicated investigation and, with a successful prosecution, will help with the launch today of Operation LEVIATHAN – the largest multi-force and multi-agency operation to target illegal fishing.  I also hope this sends out a strong message to all anglers looking to trespass on private land with the intention of catching a prized fish.”