Beds, Herts & Bucks

Ex-worker forced from Woburn Safari Park claim

An ex-member of staff at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire claims he was forced out of his job after complaining about conditions at the attraction.

Dr Paul O'Donoghue is suing Bedford Estates for constructive dismissal after he left his job in December 2009.

He told the tribunal the "last straw" was on 22 November 2009 when he had believed that an elephant would escape, and "it did in fact escape".

Woburn Safari said it rejected claims he had been forced out of his job.

'Messy case'

Asked by the chairman of the industrial tribunal, meeting in Bedford, David Moore what promise to him the company had broken, Dr O'Donoghue said: "To provide a safe working environment for myself and others."

Mr Moore said that Dr O'Donoghue's case, which he is presenting himself, was "something of a mess".

He said he had concerns over whether Dr O'Donoghue, of Ellesmere Port, had launched his claim within the three-month time limit, and also whether he was actually dismissed.

These would be considered as preliminary points on Tuesday morning.

The park is owned by the Duke of Bedford and visited by more than 500,000 people a year.

A spokeswoman for the park said: "With regards to allegations made by Dr Paul O'Donoghue, which stated he believed he was bullied and harassed by staff as a result of his complaints about animal welfare at Woburn Safari Park, we wish to make it clear that we wholeheartedly refute all of his claims and have no further comments to make at this time."

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

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