Botham defends anglers, brands TV presenter Jones 'stupid and arrogant'

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London, July 27 (ANI): Former England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham has branded as "stupid and arrogant" a call by Griff Rhys Jones, the television presenter, for canoeists to "disturb as many fishermen as possible".

The Telegraph quoted Botham, a keen angler, as saying that Rhys Jones knew little about the countryside and the benefits of fishing for Britain's rivers.

He predicted the remarks will lead to "an incident" between canoeists and anglers, and even that the latter could end up taking the presenter to court.

Rhys Jones insisted his comments had been misinterpreted, but that he had no regrets about standing up to the fishing lobby.

The controversy was triggered by an article in the BBC's Countryfile magazine, in which he complained that large stretches of river have been taken over by anglers at the expense of canoeists.

The broadcaster, whose new series, Rivers, started on BBC1 on Sunday, argued that fishermen should be disturbed because the UK's waterways are not "there for a few, but for the many".

However, an angry Botham said: "This man needs to stay in his little town and not come anywhere near rivers because he obviously doesn't have a clue about what's going on in the countryside. I am shocked that a man who has made a programme for the BBC about rivers can come out with this sort of garbage. He seems not to appreciate all the good work anglers do for our rivers."

Canoeists and boat owners have access to 41,000 of the 150,000 miles of British rivers, while landowners and private anglers own the banks and parts of the water along many waterways.

In a spiky riposte, Rhys Jones stood by the comments, but said they had been published as a series of quotes instead of the "continuous piece" he had intended. (ANI)

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