Man taking Peak Wildlife Park owners to court must reveal TV presenter’s emails

A judge has ordered a businessman who is suing the owners of Peak Wildlife Park in court to reveal emails between him and the TV presenter wife of one of the attraction’s patrons. Jake Veasey claims Colin McDougall and Tamsin Landelle tried to get him out of a joint venture to buy and develop the park, near Leek.

Mr Veasey claims Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle were responsible for ‘the zoo’s mismanagement and misuse of company funds’, and alleged there were ‘multiple preventable animal deaths “. Mr. MacDougall and Ms. Landelle deny the allegations.

At a High Court hearing on Tuesday, Judge Paul Matthews said emails between Mr Veasey and TV presenter Anna Ryder Richardson – married to Mr MacDougall but estranged from him – should be disclosed.

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In ruling on the preliminary issues in the case, the judge said more context was needed to know whether or not Ms Ryder Richardson was destined to be a zoo shareholder. He said: “Given that, as things now stand, Ms Ryder Richardson is not a party to this litigation, nor is she being called as a witness by any party, the resolution of the dispute between the parties as to whether or not she was ever intended to be a zoo shareholder risks being decided on too little information.

The judge said Mr Veasey’s ‘unjust hardship claim’ involves two companies – T3115 Limited and BB ZOO Limited, in which Mr Veasey, Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle are all shareholders – who own and operate the zoo.

Peak Wildlife Park at Winkhill, near Leek

He exposed Mr Veasey’s claim that he was supposed to be the zoo’s ‘animal director’ but was ‘pushed out’ by Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle, who Mr Veasey said ‘appear to be in couple”. Examples of alleged zoo mismanagement, which are denied, include ‘multiple preventable animal deaths’ and the ‘confiscation of firearms’ following a police investigation into Mr MacDougall, it said the judge’s decision.

The judgment follows a High Court hearing in Bristol in February into the disclosure of documents in the legal dispute, with Judge Matthews issuing various orders granting both sides specific disclosure. This included Mr Veasey’s request for the zoo’s “animal logs” which are kept as a regulatory requirement.

Mr MacDougall and Ms Landelle had taken the position that ‘there have been no issues of animal welfare mismanagement and therefore the animal logs are not relevant to disclose’.

But the judge concluded: “In this case, there is evidence before the court which shows that animals died. The question is whether their deaths were caused or contributed to mismanagement on the part of the respondents. Animal diaries are relevant in this regard.”

Disclosure was also ordered in relation to the bank statements of T3115 Limited and BB ZOO Limited.

The judge said Mr Veasey was making allegations about the companies’ bank borrowings, which he said were ‘unnecessary’.

“He says the capital of £600,000 provided by shareholders should have been sufficient to cover both acquisition costs and initial working capital requirements,” the judge said.

Mr Veasey says he is ‘concerned’ that Mr MacDougall’s ‘refusal to disclose the company’s bank accounts’ may ‘hide’ the use of that capital ‘for his own purposes’, the judge added , noting that such claims are denied.

A trial in that case is scheduled to begin on June 14, the judge said, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 29.

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