A group of Aberdeen fishermen who lost a court case last year have been hit with a legal fee bill of around £45,000 – just days after their cherished vessels were destroyed in a malicious fire.
The Cove Fishermen’s Association was forced to move its boats at Cove Harbour last year after a court ruled in favour of landowner Pralhad Kolhe – who owns sections of the historic bay.
Mr Kolhe has been seeking to remove the small fleet of boats from his land, but in the months since the court’s decision, the fishermen have continued their activities by keeping their remaining vessels in a much smaller pocket of the harbour not under the landowner’s control, further away from the shoreline.
The court also ruled that Mr Kolhe had no right to prevent public access to the pier at the small bay, which is used by kayakers, scuba divers, walkers, and the emergency services.
Although the fishermen had vowed to fight on, despite their situation, decades of fishing heritage went up in smoke last weekend, when a deliberate fire destroyed the remaining vessels and a great deal of equipment.
Police are still investigating the incident, but nobody has yet been charged.
Jim Adam, the chairman of the association, has now set up an online fundraiser to help soften the blow of the legal costs.
He said yesterday: “I couldn’t believe that he would instruct solicitors to fire across his court costs to us just days after we lost the boats in the fire, and now he’s continuing whatever operation he’s trying to do by completely blocking off all the remaining turning space in the harbour.
“Right now, we’re hoping to get £45,000, which is what we’ve been told are the legal fees. We’re going to try and get as close to that total as we can.
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“The rest of the guys and myself are just sick of it now.”
Officer are still searching for the fireraisers who destroyed the Cove boats, and are investigating the incident alongside other malicious fires which were set at the nearby Aberdeen Harbour expansion project a few miles north.
To find out more about the online fundraiser for the fishermen’s legal fees, visit www.justgiving.com and search for Help Cove Fishermen.
Mr Kolhe declined to comment.