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John Cooper QC

Call 1985 • QC 2014

"Tenacious and dynamic." "He is a total warrior: if you have to fight for a client, John is the man you want on your side. He is committed to seeking the right result for his clients and thinks outside the box in everything he does."
(Chambers & Partners 2020)

Criminal Regulatory & Environmental

Defence Cases

John is instructed in the following cases:


  • John is representing recycling company Mid UK in relation to a major fire that occurred at one of its Lincolnshire sites
  • John represented Glastonbury Festival and successfully persuaded the court in a two day ‘Newton’ hearing that the culpability of the Festival was low in relation to a category 2 pollution incident at the 2014 festival.
  • John successfully defended Red Industries after a 5 week trial at Stafford Crown Court with Not Guilty verdicts recorded in respect of 8 counts relating to a major pollution incident on the River Trent and the subsequent investigation concerning a cyanide release in the River Trent that caused a large fish kill.
  • John appeared on two occasions for Cable & Wireless in relation to pollution incidents.
  • John defended a waste company in a wide ranging case alleging exposure to noxious fumes from a composting process following fires on site.
  • John represented Safapac in relation to a pollution incident at Peterborough Crown Court.

Fire Safety

John has represented a number of high profile companies including Shell International and New Look Retail in relation to enforcement action under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The New Look case was considered by the Court of Appeal and concerned an analysis of the principles behind the Order. John represented a defendant in the Penhallow Hotel Fire prosecution (BBC News).

Selected Cases

Completed Safety Cases

  • John represented the Priory Group in relation to a prosecution concerning a ligature fatality
  • John represented Mitchells and Butler in relation to a prosecution concerning a norovirus outbreak. The Prosecution abandoned their case against the company upon receipt of the skeleton argument for dismissal.
  • John successfully defends Morrison Utilities Services in Health & Safety case. The Company were acquitted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court after a four week trial.
  • John successfully defended William Hill in relation to a fatality arising from the collapse of a sign
  • John (leading Mike Atkins) successfully defended ENW in a case concerning a fatality when ivy was being removed from a pole. The company were acquitted of failing to risk assess and of exposing anyone to a risk of harm. A outstanding appeal is to be heard (leave has been granted) in relation to an allegation under the Work at Height Regulations.
  • John secured the acquittal of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, the first ever Trust to be prosecuted for Corporate Manslaughter. The Trust is also the largest organisation of any kind prosecuted for the offence so far. The prosecution arose out of the tragic death of an obstetric patient who failed to recover fully from a general anaesthetic. The Prosecution alleged that two of the doctors responsible for her care lacked vital qualifications and experience and that there were serious shortcomings in supervision, in particular on the day of the incident. One of those doctors, a consultant anaesthetist, was charged with manslaughter by gross negligence. The other, a specialty doctor, had left the jurisdiction and so played no part in the trial
  • John successfully defended a director of Watling Tyres in a two week trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
  • John represented the director of who was acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter and also represented his company CGA who were fined £50,000 following its plea to Corporate Manslaughter at the end of November. The case relates to an incident in June 2010 when a 6-year-old girl sustained fatal injuries after becoming trapped in an electronically powered gate at the newly constructed housing development in which she lived. The gate had been installed by CGA 2 months earlier. The sentencing judge made a publicity order but made no order for costs. The company was granted 7 years to pay the fine.
  • John successfully defended Ward and Burke Construction Ltd when the company were unanimously acquitted by the jury after a two and a half week trial at St Albans Crown Court. The company had been charged with offences relating to an accident arising from the movement of steel piles on a site.
  • John successfully defended a director of a specialist roofing company charged under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act of neglect in relation to fatality as a result of a fall from height at a construction site in Northampton. The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty At Northampton Crown Court in November 2012 after an 8 day trial. Dominic Kay appeared for the Principal Contractor who were also acquitted. Both Defendants were awarded all of their costs.
  • John successfully defended (leading Mike Atkins) a director of Lion Steel charged with manslaughter and an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 3 July 2012. Not guilty verdicts were returned at Manchester Crown Court after three and a half weeks of trial.
  • John successfully defended Booker Ltd in a four day trial in Nottingham
  • John successfully defended DSM Demolition in three appeals against two prohibition notices and an improvement notice at Leeds Employment Appeals Tribunal
  • John successfully defended AMEC in a three week trial in Manchester in a case concerning a fatality at the Spinningfields development September.
  • Successfully defended a director of Innovia Films.
  • Successfully defended a Defendant in Penhallow Hotel Fire case.
  • John represented Heineken Uk Ltd at trial at Reading Crown Court. On the fourth day of trial the Prosecution offered no evidence and not guilty verdicts were recorded
  • He has also successfully defended Balfour Beatty Rail Projects at trial
  • He successfully Brookfield Construction and persuaded Aylesbury Crown Court to stay proceedings against the company as an abuse of process in a prosecution relating to the construction of a town centre in High Wycombe.
  • John successfully defended in the Golden Jubilee Bridge fatality case after the case had been referred back for a re trial by the Court of Appeal.
  • He successfully defended at trial Enterprise Management Services Ltd
  • He successfully represented Captain Mark Phillip’s Equiland Company in the Gatcombe Park prosecution concerning a fatal accident at the annual three day event. The prosecution was stayed as an abuse of process. (Stroud District Council v Equiland & Henson)
  • In addition, John successfully defended a Headmaster in an asbestos related prosecution under the Health & Safety at Work Act at Leicester Crown Court.
  • John appeared on behalf of the company in R v HTM at first instance and in the Court of Appeal (see below under significant cases) and successfully defended the company at trial HSE v HTM.
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“John is a doughty fighter and a great choice in arduous proceedings. He is a superb trial lawyer. Excellent on strategy and tactics. Formidable in the courtroom. Great in front of a jury. Also fiercely on the client’s side and an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Legal 500, 2021

“He is no less than excellent. He is tenacious and exactly the sort of person you want to be instructing in a significant health and safety case.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“A superb trial lawyer, he is excellent on strategy and tactics, and fearless in the courtroom.”

Legal 500, 2021

“Tenacious and dynamic.”; “He is a total warrior: if you have to fight for a client, John is the man you want on your side. He is committed to seeking the right result for his clients and thinks outside the box in everything he does.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020

“…while John Cooper QC is also worthy of mention here for his meteoric rise through our health and safety rankings over three consecutive years.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

“He is able to instil confidence in the client by drawing on his vast experience of cases. He puts the client at ease and then in court has a very good manner with the judge. His arguments are clear, lucid and succinct.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

“An excellent advocate who commands respect.” “He is very good on environmental law, particularly major pollution incidents.”

Legal 500, 2017

“Great regulatory lawyer, who is a superb attack weapon. When you know you’re in a fight he’s your man”…..”He is an incredibly capable health and safety lawyer” who is “extremely tenacious and skilful.”

Chambers & Partners, 2017

“John Cooper QC is very tenacious and willing to fight a client’s corner.”

Chambers & Partners, 2016

“His elevation to QC status is much deserved. If you have a scrap on your hands, John Cooper is the man you’d want in your corner. He is also very commercial and good with clients.”

Chambers & Partners, 2016

“Tenacious and committed, no point is lost on him and his strategy is first class.”

Legal 500, 2016

“Tenacious, combative and not scared to take the judge on”, “a robust trial advocate and an aggressive litigator.”

Chambers & Partners, 2015

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