TV's Anna defends park over safety

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Anna Ryder Richardson runs the Manor House Wildlife Park with her husband Colin MacDougall Anna Ryder Richardson runs the Manor House Wildlife Park with her husband Colin MacDougall

TV star Anna Ryder Richardson has defended a wildlife park she runs after it was given a £70,000 fine for health and safety breaches.

Manor House Wildlife Park, which the celebrity interior designer operates with her husband, Colin MacDougall, was fined at Swansea Crown Court last week after a child suffered serious head injuries at the West Wales attraction.

Three-year-old Gruff Davies-Hughes was hit by a tree bough when it was blown down at the wallaby enclosure in strong winds in August 2010.

The boy, from Llanelli, spent three days fighting for his life in intensive care after being airlifted to hospital.

Speaking on ITV Daybreak, Ryder Richardson said: "We are not guilty - nobody could have foreseen that that tree was going to come down, nobody. That has been clear from the very beginning.

"Risk assessments, health and safety, is part of our zoo licence, which we have to have every three years. We have a health and safety check every year. We even had a team from Woburn Safari Park came down and do all our risk assessments for us, so we were by the book."

MacDougall, 46, received a further fine of £4,000 after he admitted two identical health and safety breaches, with the wildlife park paying a combined £111,000 in fines and costs in relation to the case.

Charges against Ryder Richardson were withdrawn on the eve of a three-week trial when MacDougall, and the company they jointly run, changed their pleas to guilty.

Asked if the park would keep going, Ryder Richardson said the fines meant it would struggle.

"It will make things very difficult next year and we may not be able to do much to the park and we may not be able to employ some people, but I think that is going to have to be a decision for my husband," she said.

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