Simon has over twenty years of experience as one of the leading figures in this field of criminal regulatory law. Along the way, he has represented corporate clients in some of the highest profile health and safety cases that there have ever been brought in this country, including the Buncefield Oil Terminal explosion, the prosecution of Merlin Entertainments, the owners of Alton Towers Theme Park, in relation to the Smiler Rollercoaster accident, the recent criminal prosecution relating to the Hillsborough football stadium disaster of 1989, and the ongoing criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire. He is currently representing ITV in relation to the suicide of a participant on the Jeremy Kyle show and Arcadia Group in relation to the death of a young child at one of its TopShop stores in Reading. The notable cases in which he has defended are set out in the list below.
Simon has particular experience in defending companies and individuals charged with the most serious safety-related crime: corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter. He has a highly successful track record, having successfully represented a plumber accused in relation to the death of two residents within a new Barratts development, a site manager of a construction site in Hanover Square, Mayfair, accused in relation to the collapse of a huge window frame that killed a passer-by, a director of a business whose maintenance employee fell through a skylight in the roof and a director of a company whose industrial door collapsed onto 2 members of a band attending a gig at the G-Live centre in Guildford, amongst many others. More recently, Simon secured the acquittal of a waste recycling company charged with corporate manslaughter, even with the business in liquidation. He is currently representing a managing director facing four counts of manslaughter in relation to an explosion at the company’s wood mill in Bosley, Cheshire.
He has experience of defending in all types of safety-related prosecution, ranging from representing individuals charged with putting the public at risk such as the fireworks organiser accused of causing the death of 7 people in a motorway pile up on the M5 by smoke from his adjacent event, and the organiser of the Chatsworth International Horse Trials charged with the death of an off-road motorcyclist at the event, to securing acquittals for large construction companies in relation to site-related incidents (Lend Lease, ISG, Geoffrey Osborne to name but a few). He regularly represents very large businesses either defending safety prosecutions or seeking to advance mitigation in sentencing hearings, and has represented some of the largest businesses, both globally and in this country, such as MacDonalds, Chevron, Tesco, BP, and Starbucks. He has also been responsible for shaping some of the legal arguments in this area, and regularly provides seminars and articles on such matters, including sentencing, both to companies, to firms of solicitors and to his peers within the Health and Safety Lawyer’s Association (HSLA).
Simon is experienced in all aspects of trading law, including the judicial review of regulatory decision-making. He was Junior Counsel on behalf of Nutricia (led by Thomas De La Mare QC) in a multi-million pound judicial review relating to the interpretation of European law as to the definition of Foods for Special Medical Purposes and the extent to which they are to be distinguished from food supplements and fortified foods. He has also advised global food manufacturers and FTSE listed national retailers as to the legality of their products in relation to product launches in this country and also in relation to product recalls following the discovery of safety concerns. Additionally, he has represented and advised financial and loan companies in relation to cases brought against them in relation to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.
He has also represented the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray in relation to the outbreak of norovirus at the restaurant and the owners of the Godstone Farm petting zoo (led by Jonathan Waite QC) in relation to the e-coli outbreak on their premises.
Simon regularly represents corporate defendants in inquests and inquiries arising out of fatal incidents. He is currently acting on behalf of ITV in relation to the inquest into the suicide of a participant on the Jeremy Kyle show. He has previously represented BP in relation to the 3-month inquest concerning the Al-Qaeda attack on one of its gas refineries in In Amenas, Algeria, in which seven British citizens died. He also represented British Airways in an 8-week inquest into the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who was being deported on one of the company’s planes and suffered asphyxia following being put into restraint by the G4S security guards who were accompanying him. More recently Simon has attended inquests on behalf of David Lloyd Leisure Ltd following the death of a young child at one of their swimming pools, and Arcadia group after a young child was crushed to death by a falling ‘queue barrier’ at one of their TopShop stores in Reading. He is currently representing a design engineering consultancy in the ongoing Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.
Simon is regularly advising businesses on the impact of the Covid-19 virus in terms of their workplace safety, and has specifically advised one of the largest leisure and entertainment companies in Europe as to the legality of their policy on requiring face coverings at their attractions. He has also written extensively on the subject, and appears on a fortnightly Q&A webinar session, together with John Cooper QC and Dominic Kay QC from Chambers which has drawn a substantial regular audience amongst lawyers, safety directors and directors.
Recent Key Cases
Inquest into the death of Kaden Reddick (Reading Coroner’s Court) March 2020 – Simon represented Arcadia Group at the inquest into the death of a 10-year old boy who died whilst swinging on a heavy corian ‘queue barrier’ in front of the tills at the TopShop store in the Oracle shopping centre, Reading. The jury delivered a conclusion of accidental death. The criminal investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
Inquest into the death of Rocco Wright (Wakefield Coroner’s Court) February 2020 – Simon represented David Lloyd Leisure Ltd at the inquest into the death of a 3-year old boy who drowned at a swimming pool one of the leisure company’s private member leisure clubs in Leeds. The jury delivered a conclusion of accidental death. The criminal investigation into the incident remains ongoing.
R v ACE Waste Haulage Ltd (Old Bailey) January 2020 – Simon secured the acquittal of a waste recycling company (in liquidation) charged with corporate manslaughter following a 4 week trial at the Old Bailey before Mrs Justice Thornton and a jury. The company was convicted of a lesser safety breach.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry 2018-2020 (ongoing) – Simon (together with Lynne McCafferty QC) has represented and continues to represent M&E consultancy, Max Fordham LLP, in relation to their involvement in the design of the M&E aspects of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment, including the design of the smoke ventilation system.
R v DJT Surfacing Ltd & Stagecoach (St Albans Crown Court) June 2019 – Simon, leading Harry Vann from these Chambers, secured the acquittal of a small highways contractor (DJT Surfacing Ltd) charged in relation to the death of a woman who was run over by one of its delivery vehicles, on a pedestrian crossing at Bedford Bus Station. The trial lasted 4 weeks at St Albans Crown Court before Mr Justice Turner and a jury. The co-defendant, Stagecoach, was convicted in relation to the incident.
R v Chevron Ltd and Valero Energy UK Ltd (Swansea Crown Court) (April 2019) – Simon represented Chevron in relation to the criminal prosecution concerning the explosion at the Pembroke Oil refinery in 2011, in which four workers died. The company pleaded guilty and the sentence was expected to be one of the largest ever financial penalties imposed under the new Sentencing Guidelines for this type of offence. Ultimately, the business was fined by Mr Justice Lewis a sum of £5 million, which, whilst at the time the joint largest health and safety fine, was nevertheless viewed as extremely lenient in the circumstances, given the sheer size of the corporate entity, the high culpability finding (stretching back 13 years), and the number of fatalities involved.
Hillsborough trial (R v Duckenfield and Mackrell) (Preston Crown Court) February 2019 – Simon, together with Jason Beer QC, represented Graham Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday’s Club Secretary and Safety Officer back at the time of the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough football stadium in which 96 people died, in this groundbreaking criminal prosecution arising 30 years later. The criminal investigation and resulting prosecution was initiated by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, after a renewed inquest into the disaster chaired by Lord Justice Goldring made a number of causal findings against various people and organisations. In the criminal trial Mr Mackrell faced three safety offences, two of which (punishable by imprisonment) were withdrawn following legal argument during the course of the proceedings. Mr Mackrell was convicted of the remaining non-causative safety offence, which was punishable only by way of fine, and received a fine of only £6,500.
R v Interserve Facilities Ltd (Hove Crown Court) (November 2018) – Simon represented the company responsible for the facilities management of the Animal and Plant Agency’s high containment biological agent facility at Weybridge, following an incident where there was a failure of the power supply serving safety critical containment and control systems. The company chose to plead guilty and notwithstanding the size of the business, it was fined only £93,000 after Simon’s mitigation.
R v Adsett & Ors (Old Bailey)(February 2018) Simon represented a site manager charged with gross negligence manslaughter in relation to his management of a busy construction project in Hanover Square, Mayfair, London, from which a large and heavy window frame fell, crushing to death a female passer by. Simon led Alice Jarrett from these Chambers in the case. After an 8-week trial, the site manager was cleared by the jury of manslaughter and convicted of a lesser safety offence for which he received a suspended sentence. A sub-contractor’s director was convicted of manslaughter.
R v McDonalds (Basildon Crown Court) (January 2018) Simon represented the well known burger chain in relation to an incident at its Lakeside Drive-Thru branch when congestion at the site caused an irate driver to run down an employee who was being required to direct traffic flow. The company chose to plead guilty and, notwithstanding the size of the business, the company was fined only £200,000 after Simon’s mitigation.
Older Key Cases
R v JTF Wholesale Ltd (Stafford Crown Court) (June 2017) – Simon represented a retailer of hot tubs charged with corporate manslaughter in relation to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in Stoke-on-Trent that infected 21 people, with two people dying from their symptoms. The company was fined £1 million after a negotiated plea bargain on the first day of trial.
R v Naylor (Guildford Crown Court) (October 2016) Simon represented the MD of a company that manufactured and installed a heavy industrial door at the G-Live Centre, Guildford, which subsequently collapsed killing 2 members of the Fishermen’s Friend band attending a gig at the arena. The MD was charged with gross negligence manslaughter and his company with an offence under s.3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. After a 6-week trial before Mrs Justice Whipple, the jury delivered a verdict of ‘not guilty’ in relation to the manslaughter charge.
R v Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd (Stafford Crown Court) (September 2016) – Simon represented the PLC (the second largest theme park operator in the world after Disney) in relation to the prosecution it faced concerning the highly publicised rollercoaster accident at Alton Towers on its “Smiler” ride. Simon conducted the 2-day sentencing hearing and secured a £5 million fine for Merlin which, whilst at the time the largest in health and safety sentencing, was far less than expected in light of the profile of the incident, the findings as to culpability and the size of the business.
R v Chatsworth House Trust & Felicity Reason (Leicester Crown Court) (June 2016) – Simon secured an acquittal following a legal submission of no case to answer on behalf of the organiser of the Chatsworth International Horse Trials, following a fatal accident involving a motorcyclist at the 2013 event.
R v Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd (Court of Appeal) (March 2016) – Simon represented a company with a £122 million turnover in a successful appeal against sentence before the Court of Appeal. The original sentence of £750,000 was reduced to £100,000 on appeal.
R v Geoffrey Osborne Ltd (St Albans Crown Court) (2016) – Simon secured an acquittal of the construction company, acting as principal contractor in relation to a fall from height at its project at Kingsley Green, Radlett, following a 2-week trial.
R v ISG Ltd (Liverpool Crown Court) (2016) – Simon secured an acquittal of the construction company, acting as principal contractor in relation to an incident involving an excavator reversing into a sub-contractor’s employee during the course of the building project, following a 2-week trial.
R v TIP Europe Ltd (Court of Appeal) (2015) – Simon represented a company with at £50 million turnover in a successful appeal against sentence before the Court of Appeal. The original sentence of £500,000 was reduced to £300,000.
R v Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd (Preston Crown Court) (2015) – Simon represented a well known crane hire company in its defence of a corporate manslaughter charge relating to the death of an employee driver of a crane with defective brakes.
R (on the application of Nutricia Ltd) v Secretary of State for Health  EWHC 2285 – Simon represented the manufacturers (Nutricia, part of the Danone Group) of a milk drink called Souvenaid for the nutritional support of those with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease that was being blocked by the Department of Health on the basis that it did not qualify as a Food for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP). The judicial review was heard before Green J and he referred the case to the European Court of Justice, albeit it was subsequently settled before determined.
R v Pirelli Ltd (Carlisle Crown Court) (2015) – Simon represented the tyre company in relation to the death of an employee inside an autoclave at their Carisle factory.
R v Brighton and Sussex NHS Trust (Lewes Crown Court) (2015) – Simon represented an NHS Trust in relation to a legionella outbreak leading to the death of at least one patient and implicated in the deaths of others.
R v York College (Leeds Crown Court) (2014) – Junior Counsel (led by Richard Lynagh QC from these Chambers) representing a nursery charged with a safety offence relating to the death of a 3-year old who became entangled in a rope attached to a playground slide and suffocated to death.
Amenas Inquest (Royal Courts of Justice) (2014) – Junior counsel on behalf of BP in the inquest relating to the death of 8 UK citizens at their gas plant in In Amenas, Algeria following the terrorist attack and siege carried out by a group affiliated with Al-Quaeda.
R v Geoffrey Counsell (Bristol Crown Court) (2013) – Junior counsel in the acquittal of the fireworks operator charged with carrying out a fireworks display at Taunton rugby club that was alleged to have caused a collision on the M5 motorway that left 7 motorists dead in one of the worst ever traffic accidents in this country. The case was dismissed by the Judge Mr Justice Simon on the basis of a submission of no case to answer.
R v Lion Steel Equipment Ltd; Palliser, Williams, Coupe (Manchester Crown Court) (2012) – Junior counsel in the acquittal of a director (Williams) at the end of the Prosecution case, following the Court’s acceptance of the Defence submission of no case to answer on the basis that the director did not owe a duty of care towards employees in the company (such as the deceased) who were not under his day-to-day control.
R v Paul Williamson & Malden Plumbing & Heating Ltd (Old Bailey) (2012) – Junior counsel (led by Richard Camden Pratt QC) in the acquittal at the Old Bailey after a 15-week trial of a gas heating engineer charged with manslaughter, GBH and breach of safety regulations after carbon monoxide poisoning killed one occupant at the Barratt Homes, Bedfont Estate, and left one man in a lifelong coma.
R v Kenneth Thelwall (Chester Crown Court) (2012) – Acquittal at Chester Crown Court of a director and businessman charged with gross negligence manslaughter.
- Simon Antrobus QC and Mark Balysz have successfully defended a company and its sole director in relation to corporate manslaughter and s.37 HSWA charges
- Chambers UK Bar Awards 2019 Nominations
“Real expertise, very approachable and measured in his approach – my go-to advocate!”
Legal 500, 2021
“His written work is brilliant, his cross-examination skills are very, very good and he’s a brilliant trial advocate.”
Chambers & Partners, 2021
“Simon is a star performer in the top bracket. He is very astute and his strategic thinking and attention to detail are second to none. Makes clients feel reassured that they have someone at the top of their game who will fight their corner.”
Legal 500, 2021
“He is fiercely intelligent, very commercially aware and has a brilliant manner with clients. He has a real strength in understanding and simplifying technical and expert evidence for judges and juries alike and is amongst the most polished advocates around. Simon is particularly good at looking at novel arguments and bringing a new way of thinking to the case.”
Legal 500, 2021
“A brilliant barrister who will fly in silk.”; “He gets a great rapport going with clients and has a good criminal legal brain which is of great help on strategic issues that come up.”
Chambers & Partners, 2020
“Simon Antrobus is unquestionably a star individual.”
Chambers & Partners, 2018
“He is really knowledgeable, careful, clever and a safe pair of hands.”
Chambers & Partners, 2018
Chambers & Partners, 2018
“He is very approachable for clients, is dogged in his cross-examination and has a very good knowledge of the paperwork.”
Chambers & Partners, 2018
“He is hardworking and has good judgement.”
Legal 500, 2017
“He operates like a silk.”
Legal 500, 2017
“A class act with a razor-sharp mind.”
Legal 500, 2017