Bernard Thorogood practises in the most serious categories of Health and Safety and other Regulatory cases of gravity and complexity (see selected cases below). He has specialised in such cases for many years.
He is always involved in a very substantial number of fatal cases, including Corporate and individual Manslaughter work, usually instructed from well before the Inquest. He represents and advises both individuals and organisations, large and small, including international businesses, NHS Trusts, and many other public bodies, in Regulatory matters concerning their present and future practice.
Work covers all aspects of manufacturing, engineering, construction including adequacy of materials/systems, transport, pressure vessels, logistics, asbestos, confined spaces, farming accidents, cases of “domestic” and commercial fatal gassing, contractor control, Chief Constables accused of Health and Safety offences, a widespread release of toxic gas affecting scores of people, a poorly controlled chemical process in a nuclear facility, a “safety sensitive” Government agency and a national body devoted to certifying safety. Extensive experience of mining cases, including falls of ground, ventilation and operation of heavy equipment.
His trademarks include thorough attention to detail and getting to grips with complex and technical evidence. Works throughout the country. Travels to client’s workplace, particularly in order to get to grips with the finer details of such processes, technicalities or environments, as might be relevant to the case in hand
His work with Directors and Companies, in relation to financial and Company law, facilitates additional insight into the workings of large organisations. His time working in industrial production helps keep focus on the reality of the workplace. His work in personal injury and heavy criminal cases, before specialising in Regulatory work, informs and assists strategic and tactical planning.
He has appeared for/advised many prominent national organisations/businesses, including several national construction Companies, Shell UK, British Sugar, Barclays Bank, Robert Wiseman Dairies, Scottish and Southern Power, Boots PLC, G4S, The Building Research Establishment, many National Health Service Trusts, Dunlop, Smurfitt Kappa UK, Railcare Limited, Independent Television News, Aggregate Industries (UK) Limited, N.D.A. (formerly NIREX), Sandvik, Lifeways, Universities, Noble Foods Limited, Kuehne and Nagle Limited, Cemex, Brother Industries UK, Air Liquide. Instructed for the fire service at the Hillsborough Inquests.
"Bernard is a highly skilled prosecutor and has extremely good knowledge of criminal practice. He works extremely well with the client to reassure them and gives unmatched confidence in the work that he delivers."
Legal 500 2023 (Planning and Environment)
"Bernard is one of those counsel who you know will, when in court, know the file better than any one else in the court. He provides a Rolls-Royce service for every case."
Legal 500 2022 (Planning and Environment)
"First rate, a leading light in the health and safety world. Very hard working and extremely responsive. Goes in to bat for every client with vigour and panache."
Legal 500 2022 (Business and Regulatory Crime)
"He is excellent with clients, very personable and delivers the right advice in the right way. He's inexhaustible in terms of the energy he commits to his cases." "He has a very good reputation and is an effective and very tough advocate."
Chambers UK 2022 (Health and Safety London)
"He's exceptional - excellent with clients, very personable and inexhaustible in terms of the energy he commits to a case." "He's an excellent advocate who is very hard-working."
Chambers UK 2022 (Health and Safety Midlands)
“A forceful advocate who has a huge amount of experience in health and safety matters.” “Bernard is really exceptional as a barrister. He is a great operator and a tremendous individual to have on your side.” “A dedicated and excellent barrister.”
Chambers UK 2021 - Health and Safety (London)
“He's extremely good with clients and a very forceful advocate.” “A first-rate barrister. He's a very good tactician and is extremely thorough.” “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of case law and is a great advocate.”
Chambers UK 2021 - Health and Safety (Midlands)
“He combines excellent drafting skills with deep subject matter expertise.”
Legal 500 2021 - Business and Regulatory Crime (Midlands)
“He is immensely thorough and very persuasive. A fantastic barrister.”
Chambers UK 2020
“A first-class advocate with excellent client care skills.”
Legal 500 2020
R v Contract Natural Gas Limited
Liverpool Crown Court - defence of major gas supplier in connection with large explosion in Birkenhead.
R (HSE) v Raphael Healthcare (Elysium Healthcare Farndon Limited)
Nottingham Crown Court - Prosecution - arising from the investigation into the death of a vulnerable psychiatric patient in March 2014, when she left an insecure moving vehicle, and died as a result of impacting on the road surface.
R (HSE) v Tooles Transport Limited
Worcester Crown Court - Prosecution – Concluded September 2018 workplace transport issues arising from investigation into the death of an employee in a haulage yard – failure to properly manage vehicle and pedestrian movements – jury convicted.
R(HSE) v Brother Industries UK Ltd
Concluded in June 2018 – Defence – explosive ejection of molten plastic under great pressure. As a result of careful analysis, defence view of culpability and harm accepted as correct by Court and low fine imposed, when prosecution had suggested that very much larger fine was appropriate.
R (HSE) v Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Crown Court - Prosecution – pleaded guilty to offences which caused 2 deaths of vulnerable patients. The fatalities here (2012 and 2013) have been the subject of extensive national publicity.
R(HSE) v Martin Baker Aircraft Limited
Concluded in February 2018
Prosecution - investigation began in 2011 following ejection by Red Arrows pilot when parachute failed to deploy, leading to loss of life. Immense complexity in the engineering evidence. After initial not guilty plea, defendant changed plea.
R v Hewitt
Concluded finally in January 2018 after jury trial and successful appeal – Defence – case concerned health and safety associated with management of challenging behaviour in residential care. Massive complexity on the facts. Acting for Company Chairman, acquitted by jury of main charge. Initially sentenced for very much less serious (secondary) participation in Health and Safety offence and fined well within the Magistrates’ Court’s limits – however leave to appeal obtained from the Court of Appeal – and conviction quashed at full hearing in October 2017. Following contested submissions concerning re-trial, Court ruled that there would be no re-trial in January 2018.
R(HSE) v “A” Construction Limited
Manchester - Defence – defence analysis preferred by the Court, and modest penalty imposed, in contrast to prosecution’s submissions. Moderate penalty vital for this family business.
R(HSE) v Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust
Shrewsbury Crown Court - Prosecution – case featured 5 fatalities and a long term failure to control falling risks in a hospital environment – defence contested causation of deaths – after detailed submissions that issue resolved decisively for prosecution.
R (Surrey FARS) v Firstport Retirement Property Services Limited
Concluded April 2017
Guildford Crown Court – Prosecution – care home fire resulting in fatality (elderly vulnerable victim – dementia) – substantial case to build and shape – causation of death accepted by defendant – complex and linked fire safety failings.
R (HSE) v Nottingham City Council
Defence - Judge preferred Mr Thorogood’s analysis of case to prosecution’s – penalty suggested by prosecution as appropriate very substantially reduced by Court, to one within the old Magistrates’ Court limits.
R (on the prosecution of Leicester County Council) v Wilko Retail Limited
Leicester Crown Court – Prosecution - health and safety breaches which resulted in catastrophic injuries for a young part-time employee.
R (Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority) v Brookholme Croft Ltd
Concluded December 2016
Derby Crown Court – Prosecution - following a fire at care home an elderly resident died. Breaches included inadequate risk assessment and failure to properly consider compartment size and evacuation times.
R (HSE) v Merlin Attractions Operations Limited
Concluded September 2016
Prosecution – the "Alton Towers” rollercoaster collision. Complex engineering to master and issues arising in connection with the application of the 2016 Definitive Guidelines to the facts of the case. National publicity consequent upon sizeable fine (5m) for the leisure industry.
R (Mansfield District Council) v Embrace All Limited and Dean
Concluded September 2016
Prosecution – acting for Local Authority - (fatal) care home case concerning stairway/exit door risks. Substantial issues concerning the economic realities of the corporate defendant’s business explored by prosecution, with assistance from forensic accountant. The Court found that there was a supportive group and fine of 1.5m imposed, despite turnover only in the region of 12m and significant trading losses.
R (on the prosecution of Bassetlaw District Council) v Wilkinsons Hardware Limited (now Wilko Retail Limited)
Nottingham Crown Court – Prosecution - health and safety breaches which resulted in the death of an employee at a distribution depot. Substantial disputes concerning extent of culpability/causation resolved in favour of Mr Thorogood’s arguments.
R (Newport City Council) v Birmingham Garage and Industrial Doors Limited
Cardiff Crown Court – Defence – (fatal) case against client based on alleged inadequacy of its engineering works – prosecution persuaded (defendant’s expert evidence and detailed defence representations) to offer no evidence at second PTPH. Acquitted on all charges. Costs order secured.
R (HSE) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police
Birmingham Crown Court – Defence – counter-terrorism firearms officer had part of his trigger finger cut off when operating a shear used to destroy seized weaponry – Court substantially reduces fine having regard to public funding.
R (HSE) v NHSLA (standing in place of Hampshire Primary Care Trust and the Portsmouth City Teaching Hospitals Primary Care Trust)
Portsmouth Crown Court – Defence – acting for 2 dissolved Primary Care Trusts, their criminal liability for fatal health and safety breaches having been transferred by order to the National Health Service Litigation Authority. Substantial arguments as to culpability and liability to pay prosecution costs resulted in a much reduced fine and payment of costs. The Judge (a member of the Sentencing Council) indicated that the penalty would have been the same, had she applied the new Definitive Guideline.
R (HSE) v Shropshire Council
Shrewsbury Crown Court – Defence – fatal choking incident involving vulnerable service-user in day centre – non-causative basis secured, leading to much reduced fine/costs. Very close examination of complex financial evidence.
R (HSE) v Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust
Stafford Crown Court – Prosecution – case concerned 4 fatalities spread over 8 years - attracted national coverage for obvious reasons. Case of considerable complexity and national importance.
R (HSE) v Cranfield University
Swindon Crown Court – Prosecution - the Specialist Military University was fined after a senior member of staff suffered life-threatening injuries whilst dismantling a bomblet (part of a cluster munition now used for research).
R (Nottingham City Council) v Hodgson Elkington LLP
Nottingham Crown Court – Prosecution – foot caught in badly maintained escalator – offence aggravated by exposure of the public, over time. Substantial debate concerning causation resolved in favour of Mr Thorogood’s arguments.
R (Nottingham City Council) v (1) Mohammed Abdul Basit and (2) Amjad Bhatti
Nottingham Crown Court - Prosecution – both defendants pleaded guilty to 7 counts each concerning breaches of food hygiene regulations, leading to 142 victims suffering acute food poisoning after an E. outbreak (only the second appearance of a rare strain in Europe since 1945) – connected to food sold from takeaway restaurant.
R (HSE) v NHSLA (standing in place of The Blackpool Primary Care Trust and the North Lancashire Primary Care Trust)
Preston Crown Court – Defence - unusual situation, acting for 2 dissolved Primary Care Trusts, their criminal liability for fatal health and safety breaches having been transferred by order to the National Health Service Litigation Authority. Causative link to breaches. Substantial arguments as to culpability resulted in a much reduced fine.
R v Tucker and Others
July – August 2015
Truro Crown Court – Defence - substantial and complex manslaughter/health and safety (electrocution) trial lasting several weeks, with significant issues between all defendants and Mr Tucker, as well as between prosecution and defence. Mr Tucker was the only individual not to go to immediate custody. Much hard work required to demonstrate the difficult situation into which the defendant had been placed.
R (HSE) v John Pointon and Sons Limited
Stafford Crown Court – prosecution – second fatality and second prosecution on same production line – confined space/complex engineering at heart of case. Full costs recovery.
R(HSE) v Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Limited and Enterprise AOL  EWCA Crim 2684
Stafford Crown Court – Prosecution – fatal case arising from unsafe traffic management – convictions secured following 2 week trial. Defence appeal to Court of Appeal (conviction and sentence) dismissed – December 2014. Court of Appeal clarified the meaning of "material risk”.
R (Natural England) v Day  EWCA Crim 2683
Concluded in July 2013 – Carlisle Crown Court – Prosecution - devastation to highly sensitive SSSI – substantial hearings concerning legal interpretation of crucial concepts/powers – basis of plea – extent of culpability/sentence. Full costs (457,000) recovered. Appeal (conviction and sentence) dismissed in December 2014 – application to Supreme Court successfully resisted.
R (HSE) v Cemex Materials Limited
Defence - Newcastle Crown Court – successful arguments during 2 day contest in which Court accepted BT’s submissions to the effect that there was no causative link between breach and death.
Member of Health and Safety Lawyers Association
Forensic Science Society
Criminal Bar Association