Former Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister was fired earlier this month for having a consensual relationship with a staff member 18 months ago, his attorney said Wednesday.

McAllister, who headed the organization of the same name for the past 16 years, was asked to resign by the board of directors on March 7, said Barbara Matthews, a St. James attorney representing McAllister. He refused and never got a chance to present his side of the story to the board, Matthews said.

"He was terminated without due process," she said. "He's going to go down fighting. If it means starting up another baykeeper organization, that might happen."

Brendan J. McCurdy, chairman of the board of Peconic Baykeeper Inc., said, "We do not comment on personnel matters."

But he said the organization "is still very much alive. We'll continue our advocacy for clean water."

The nonprofit group advocates to protect Peconic and South Shore estuaries, and has focused in recent years on issues including nitrogen pollution and the decline of eel grass.

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McAllister is widely identified with the organization, Matthews said. "He is the Peconic Baykeeper -- he is the whole group," she said. "He embodies the Baykeeper and he was wrongfully terminated without a proper investigation."

Matthews said McAllister engaged in a relationship with an office staffer that ended 18 months ago, but questioned the timing of the allegation since it happened so long ago. She said McAllister was going through a divorce at the time.

McAllister could appeal to the umbrella organization, Waterkeeper Alliance, Matthews said. That group was founded in 1999 by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.