AN angler who sued a salmon fisheries board after being accused of killing unseasonable fish has accepted "substantial" damages.

John Thorne and a friend were leaving their hotel to set off for the last day of their fishing holiday on the River Ericht when river bailiffs swooped and confiscated two salmon which they claimed were unseasonable.

The river bailiffs then called in their superior and police officers to the Bridge of Cally Hotel in Perthshire where the men were cautioned and charged with killing salmon that were ready to spawn and should have been returned to the river alive. On the instructions of the senior bailiff, the police then confiscated the fish.

Mr Thorne, 58, who owns a building company in Southampton, said: "It was completely out of order. We have been harassed by the bailiffs many times who come to check on what we are doing.

"I don't know what it is. We are not breaking the law. We have paid for our fishing and do not use any illegal methods. It costs a lot of money for our holiday. I can't understand why we have been targeted repeatedly by these men. They behave like river cowboys."

Mr Thorne refused to accept a written warning from the procurator fiscal at Perth and was due to stand trial when the case was abandoned.

He then raised an action against Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board claiming £15,000 after the incident, saying that he was being harassed for no reason by the river bailiffs.

The case was due to be heard at Perth Sheriff Court later this week, but lawyers for the parties have settled the matter for an undisclosed sum.

He added: "The whole thing has been very stressful and expensive. I look forward to my week of salmon fishing in Scotland and take the same week on Glenericht every year.

"I have fished the beat since and have no intention of letting them spoil it by having to look over my shoulder all the time. I just hope I will be left in peace to enjoy it now."

Rodger McCosh, of Glenericht Estate, whose family own the fishing on the river, said: "Some of John Thorne's party have fished here regularly for the last 20 years. Mr Thorne has taken the beat for the last eight years.

"He is an accomplished and successful angler. Although there is no law against any guests killing the fish they catch, Mr Thorne like most anglers, returns most of his fish alive to the river keeping only some to eat, or have smoked."

Mr Thorne's lawyer, Ian Watson, of Rubens Solicitors, said: "The case has now been settled and my client has received substantial damages from Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board."

Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board were unavailable for comment.