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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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South Lakes zoo inspection results will be revealed behind closed doors

A SECRET meeting is set to brief councillors following a spot inspection at a zoo.

Members of Barrow Borough Council’s licensing committee have been summoned to the special meeting, set to take place on Monday, to discuss a special inspection of South Lakes Wild Animal Park.

The inspection took place in January and council chiefs have already blocked one attempt to reveal the findings, after the Evening Mail requested a copy of the report.

Both press and the public have been barred from the meeting after the report into the inspection was classified as a part two document. This means only council officials and councillors will be able to see its contents.

However, David Gill, the owner of the park, has said the report is of a standard inspection and stressed it was unrelated to the ongoing investigation into the death of employee Sarah McClay at tho zoo last year. He said reports regarding the investigation would be released in due course.

The council is carrying out an investigation into the zoo after Miss McClay died while working at the park on May 24 last year.

It is understood an email has been sent to serving councillors briefing them not to discuss the ongoing investigation as it reaches its conclusion.

Miss McClay was attacked by Padang, a Sumatra tiger, as she worked in the enclosure. The tiger then grabbed Miss McClay and dragged her 100 yards into her enclosure before mauling her.

She suffered severe head and neck injuries and later died in Preston Royal Hospital.

Police handed the investigation to Barrow Borough Council last August after establishing there was no criminal wrongdoing.

Jane Holden, legal services manager for Barrow Borough Council, said: “In some circumstances, it is necessary to exclude the public and press from meetings of the council because it is likely that confidential or exempt information will be disclosed.

“Papers relating to these items are classed as part two items and printed on green paper and are withheld from the public.

“The council is committed to striking the proper balance between openness and an individual’s legal rights and privacy.”

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