Edinburgh Zoo panda man Iain Valentine suspended

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Iain Valentine
Image caption,
Iain Valentine has been instrumental in Edinburgh Zoo's efforts to bring the pandas to Scotland

The man behind an agreement to bring pandas to Scotland has been suspended from his job at Edinburgh Zoo.

Iain Valentine is the latest figure to be investigated at the zoo into what officials are describing as matters of a very serious nature.

It follows the suspension of the zoo's chief operating officer, Gary Wilson, in March.

The zoo hopes to take delivery of two giant pandas from China later this year.

The zoo has not revealed the nature of the charges but said it was taking them extremely seriously and that the police were not involved.

Mr Valentine has been instrumental in the zoo's efforts to bring the pandas to Scotland.

It is understood the zoo's director of development, Anthony McReady, has left the organisation.

Both men had been helping to run the zoo while a separate inquiry continues into allegations against Mr Wilson.

The zoo said it hoped an investigation would be completed soon and it remained confident the situation would not jeopardise the agreement to bring the pandas to Scotland.

Donald Emslie, chairman of trustees of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: "The RZSS Board-level investigation, with independent support, into anonymous, serious allegations made against Gary Wilson is now close to an end.

"We hope to make an announcement on this shortly.

"During the course of these investigations, the RZSS discovered matters of a very serious nature which require to be investigated further.

"One member of staff has today left their position with the society.

"Another member of staff has been suspended pending an investigation.

"I should make it clear that the police are not involved."

A spokesman from the Scotland Office said: "On the issue of the suspension, that is a matter for the zoo.

"The agreement to bring the two pandas to Scotland was an agreement signed by the UK and Chinese governments during the vice premiers visit and work on the arrangements to bring the pandas to the zoo still continues."

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