Banned fisherman resorts to scales of justice
A BITTER legal stoush has erupted in the fiercely competitive world of sports fishing.
Professional angler Matthew Mott, of Kingaroy northwest of Brisbane, is suing fishing tournament organiser BASS Australia Nation Pty Ltd - which has more than 500,000 members and a mission statement to "bring bass fishing to the main stream" - in a bid to overturn his two-year ban from competition.
Mr Mott was banned for two years on July 23, after competition owner Drew McGrath alleged he was aggressive or abusive towards three people during a competition at Lake Boondooma in the South Burnett between July 20 and 22.
It is alleged he breached the competition's code of conduct which states participants must conduct themselves in a manner becoming of professional anglers.
Mr Mott has denied the claims, and asked the court to force BASS to give him full details of the allegations and to ban Mr McGrath from overseeing any moves to discipline him.
He even suggested there was a conspiracy at play in an email chain with Mr McGrath that forms part of the case.
"We had three separate witnesses approach us with three separate complaints, very independent of each other, are you saying they are lying to us about the complaints and somehow this is a conspiracy?" Mr McGrath asked Mr Mott via email on July 23.
Mr Mott responded: "Conspiracy? You said it not me!"
After an appeal hearing on July 29, a committee, which included a Redbank Plains police officer, unanimously upheld Mr Mott's two year suspension, according to court documents.
Mr Mott, who runs a bait-and-tackle shop called Bass to Barra Marine in Kingaroy, said he had not been given written details of the allegations prior to the hearing, during which he denied he had been aggressive in any way.
He claimed the ban damaged his reputation in the fishing community, with his customers and sponsors.
Mr McGrath alleged Mr Mott had revealed details of the alleged incident himself to a huge amount of the membership base by phone, but said the organisation itself had stayed silent.
"We have at no stage made this penalty public to anyone outside the appeals process," he said in an email on July 27.
Mr McGrath told Mr Mott's lawyers on July 24 he was hesitant to reveal the names of the three complainants, considering the allegations involved "quite aggressive" behaviour.
The case is due in court on Monday.