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John Cooper KC and Malcolm Galloway are successful in defending the first ever attempted prosecution for Norovirus

John Cooper KC and Malcolm Galloway, instructed by David Young (Eversheds Sutherland – London), have been successful in defending Mitchells & Butlers Plc (M&B) against a prosecution brought by Exeter City Council, in the first ever attempted prosecution for Norovirus.

M & B operates several premises within Exeter and each of them has a maximum rating under the Food Standard Agency’s national food hygiene rating scheme. Prior to, during and following the Easter weekend 2015, Exeter City Council received reports of a large number of people suffering sickness and diarrhoea. The evidence established an outbreak of Norovirus. At that time there appeared to be a common link to a Toby Carvery restaurant operated by M & B in the city. After investigation, the Council commenced a prosecution against M & B alleging a breach of duty under health and safety legislation. It was never alleged that M & B were in any way responsible for the outbreak. The Council’s case was that M & B failed properly to contain it. M & B did take steps, over the days following the outbreak, to contain both the virus and the outbreak and M & B denied that alleged failure. After receiving a defence application to dismiss with a concurrent application to stay the prosecution as an abuse of process, Exeter City Council reviewed the matter and decided not to pursue the case against M & B in relation to the allegations arising out of these events and the prosecution was withdrawn.

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