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Fiona leads the in-house barrister team and with over 21 years' experience in the field, her primary practice is inquests. She is instructed on behalf of NHS organisations, private health providers, education settings, care facilities, local authorities, and security regulators to represent their interests in complex, high-profile and lengthy cases where Article 2 is engaged, often before a jury.
Adept at obtaining injunctions against media publications, Fiona’s success includes obtaining an injunction against Channel 4 'Dispatches' programme to prevent publication of information pertinent to a jury case, against ‘Take a Break’ magazine which was due to name children currently in the care of a local authority. She has further advised, for example, an NHS Trust on the merits of obtaining an injunction against 'Tonight with Trevor McDonald' programme.
Called to the Bar in 1999 and following pupillage at KCH Garden Square Chambers, Fiona was Browne Jacobson’s first in-house barrister and pioneered the firm’s in-house Chambers offering. A pupil supervisor since 2010, Fiona has overall responsibility for the in-house pupillage training programme and is appointed HM Assistant Coroner in three jurisdictions. Local authorities call upon Fiona’s expertise to provide advice to them in their function as budget holders for the coronial services within their jurisdiction.
Fiona was instructed on behalf of the school where Karanbir died due to anaphylactic shock caused by a cheese sandwich being thrown at him by a fellow pupil – he was allergic to both wheat and dairy. The Coroner issued Prevention of Future Death reports to the Secretary of State of Education and Health surrounding the availability of EpiPens in schools and public places.
Prison Death Cluster inquests
Representing a prison healthcare provider in a series of offender health inquests engaging Article 2 and before a jury which were treated by the Coroner as a “cluster”. Fiona provided robust representation in relation to each inquest alongside advising on themes and systemic issues across the cluster.
The High Court in HM Coroner South London vs HMAC South London acknowledged that it had no power to amend the record of inquest itself. However, ruled that it does not necessarily follow that there must be a fresh inquest. In the light of the language of section 13 of the 1988 Act (as amended) this court has the power to direct that the conclusion alone should be quashed, and that the matter be remitted back to a new Coroner to provide a new conclusion that he/she considers proper.
This complex inquest looked closely at the responsibility owed by the State to those who were vulnerable and on benefits, following the death of this young mother following the withdrawal of her benefits.
"Fiona Butler put together a very professional and clear defence on our behalf and represented us at the tribunal. She advised us on what evidence would be relevant and thanks to her input most of the claims made at the tribunal were dismissed.…I would recommend her without hesitation."
"Fiona’s professionalism, rigour and empathy have helped people feel much better able to take part in what is inevitably a stressful process. We are all really glad that she had been defending DPT."