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Learning English - Words in the News
10 March, 2006 - Published 14:20 GMT
Jackson's Neverland must close
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch

The authorities in California have ordered Michael Jackson to close down his Neverland Ranch. The singer has also been fined about a hundred-thousand pounds for failing to pay his workers or have employer's insurance. Peter Bowes reports from Los Angeles.

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According to state officials, Michael Jackson hasn't paid at least thirty staff since December and his employer's insurance policy lapsed in January.

The Neverland Ranch sprawls over 1,100 hectares in central California. As well as the main home there's a theme park and a zoo. Under California law anyone employing more than one person has to have what's known as a workers' compensation policy.

An order to stop operations at the ranch was served on a security guard at the front gate but officials were turned away when they asked to see the ranch's management.

The local animal welfare department has been called in to care for the inhabitants of the zoo. All the workers have been told to stay away and the ranch operators given five days to appeal. Michael Jackson has been living in Bahrain since he was acquitted on child sex abuse charges last June.

Listen to the words

his employer's insurance policy lapsed
his official protection from a special company if something bad happened to his workers ended

is spread over a wide area

a theme park
a place where people have fun riding on big machines, such as roller coasters or roundabouts

compensation policy
agreement where money is paid to workers if something bad happens, such as they lose their jobs

to stop operations at the ranch
to close down Michael Jackson's farm

animal welfare department
organisation which looks after animals and makes sure they are not harmed

the inhabitants of
the animals in

the ranch operators
people who look after his home

to appeal
to ask for the decision to be changed

cleared, found to be not guilty

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