A FISHERMAN has been taken to court for stockpiling illegal oysters.

Richard Eves, who runs Leigh Fishermen’s Co-operative in old Leigh High Street, was caught with 400 untreated oysters in a fridge at his shop when it was visited by Southend Council health officers.

The shellfish, which had been harvested on the Westcliff foreshore two days before, had not gone through the purification process to remove the deadly viruses and bacteria which can infest them.

If eaten, untreated oysters can pass on diseases such as Norovirus and even cause septicaemia in people with vulnerable immune systems.

Mr Eves received a summons to appear in Southend Magistrates’ Court, accused of stockpiling oysters which were not fit for public consumption. But the fisherman, who has 12 years of experience, said he had no intention of selling the shellfish and claimed he was being unfairly targeted.

He was ordered to pay for the destruction of the oysters.