Zoo owners accused of avoidable deaths in High Court action – BBC


Two owners of a zoo are facing allegations of multiple avoidable animal deaths and misusing company funds in a hearing at the High Court.
Jake Veasey says Colin MacDougall and Tamsin Landelle tried to "squeeze" him out of a joint venture to buy Peak Wildlife Park in Staffordshire.
The pair deny the allegations, which are made in Mr Veasey's "unfair prejudice petition" at the court.
They were revealed in a judge's ruling on issues in the case on Tuesday.
Judge Paul Matthews said Mr Veasey's case involves two companies – T3115 Limited and BB Zoo Limited, of which Mr Veasey, Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle are all shareholders – that own and manage the zoo.
Mr Veasey also alleges the pair "have made inappropriate staff hires, have mismanaged the zoo and misused company funds, and have paid themselves excessive remuneration".
The judge said Mr Veasey claimed he was to be animal director at the zoo but was "squeezed" out by Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle who "appear to be in a relationship".
Included in his allegations of mismanagement are "multiple avoidable animal deaths" and the "confiscation of firearms" following an investigation into Mr MacDougall by the police.
In his ruling, following a hearing in Bristol in February, Mr Matthews said the zoo's "animal diaries", that are kept as a regulatory requirement, would be part of the case as there was "material before the court which shows that animals have died".
"The question is whether their deaths were caused or contributed to by mismanagement on the part of the respondents," he said.
He also ordered that Mr Veasey discloses correspondence between himself and TV presenter Anna Ryder Richardson – Mr MacDougall's wife from whom he is separated – to provide more context around whether or or not she was ever intended to be a shareholder in the zoo.
A trial in the case is listed to begin on 14 June with a preliminary hearing due on 29 April, the judge said.
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