Accountants Baker Tilly have resigned as auditors of the British Show Jumping Association after a black hole of £328,000 was found in its accounts.

The BSJA, the governing body of showjumping in the UK, says it is extremely disappointed with Baker Tilly, who has handled its financial affairs for 18 years.

“We feel Baker Tilly has been extremely unhelpful about this matter and your board felt they had totally lost confidence in them and invited Baker Tilly to resign as auditor, and they have now done so,” says the BSJA.

The BSJA, which regulates more than 4,200 horse shows across the UK each year, believes the error should have been picked up earlier.

The missing £328,000 was found during a review organised by the new chief executive Diana Cornish. The association’s income and net asset value was overstated because charges to members and show organisers were incorrectly passed to the financial reporting system.

But the misstatements had not been picked up during earlier audits by Baker Tilly, says a letter to members.

The firm failed to identify significant errors, despite assuring the association in 2007 that its new audit team would examine all areas of financial control and would report on any weaknesses, it is alleged.

The BSJA has now appointed Stratford-on-Avon accountants Murphy Salisbury to carry out the audit for 2008, and to audit earlier years. Baker Tilly could now face a claim for alleged negligence, and the association’s lawyers have been called in to examine the situation.