A surveyor that identified ‘2,000 safety defects’ at Chessington World of Adventures failed in a bid to prevent the park opening in 2013, it has emerged.
Dr Peter Cave and his consultancy company Peer Egerton were commissioned by park operators Merlin Entertainments to assess the park following an accident in 2012.
His report concluded that there were some “2,000 safety issues”, according to the BBC’s reporting of a court hearing this week.
A four-year-old girl fell through queue line fencing for the Tomb Blaster dark ride and suffered serious injuries and subsequent coma.
The incident caused considerable negative PR for Chessington, and Merlin commissioned Dr Cave and his company to identify further potential safety issues around the Surrey theme park.
‘Campaign of harassment’
A conflict between Dr Cave’s company and Merlin ensued following the report’s completion, which Merlin attributed to a “financial dispute”.
Dr Dave subsequently failed in an attempt at getting a court order to prevent the park opening for the 2013 season.
He then proceeded to send approximately 80,000 emails to Surrey residents alerting them to the condition of the park. A number of petitions accusing Merlin of neglect of its rides were also posted online.
The Daily Telegraph reported how Dr Cave wrote to Merlin chief executive Nick Varney asking how he slept at night.
It was reported that £4.6 million had been spent at Chessington on remedial work following Dr Cave’s original report, with some of it “urgent” in nature.
Merlin and Dr Cave were in court this week as the Chessintgon company was denied a court injunction preventing Dr Cave from continuing what is described as a “campaign of harassment”.
Merlin described his “baseless” criticisms as “highly alarming, distressing and disgraceful”.
The judge said the case had raised “an important issue about the lawfulness of campaigns which, if their content is correct, are in the public interest”.
“I accept that the issues Dr Cave raises are matters of public interest,” she said “1.6 million people visit the park every year.”
“Campaigners may, in the course of their activities, annoy, irritate and upset companies and individuals.
“To what extent should those activities be restrained by the civil courts, before the question whether they are justified has been decided?
“To what extent are they criminal offences?”
Dr Cave had made very effective use of the internet and emails to get his message across and Merlin could not use anti-harassment legislation to stop him, she concluded.