The Telegraph reports this morning that Heston Blumenthal and the Fat Duck restaurant – home to 529 cases of norovirus earlier this year – will not face criminal charges despite failures in reporting illness and what appears to be an overall lack of food safety awareness.
Windsor and Maidenhead Council said that although the restaurant could have taken greater steps to combat the norovirus outbreak, there was insufficient evidence to take formal action.
Jim Rosenthal, the television sports presenter, who was among those affected after dining at the restaurant to celebrate his wife Chrissy’s birthday, said,
“I’m disappointed but not surprised. Unfortunately, the council has probably been forced to take a pragmatic view and decide against what would probably be the enormous cost of mounting a case against someone who can afford the best lawyers." If it was a café at a lay-by doing what he did they would have been taken to court long ago. Chrissy and I will never set foot in there again.”
Boxing promoter Frank Warren, who is also still awaiting compensation, said,
"The whole way they have handled this has been a disaster from start to finish. To hear that the council isn’t going to take him on doesn’t surprise me – it’s just because of who he is rather than what he’s done or not done.”
A spokeswoman for the Duckster claimed that the HPA report was "flawed" and continued to blame others.
“We are not surprised by the local authority’s decision, given that the Health Protection Agency’s report clearly concludes that responsibility for the outbreak lies with a shellfish supplier and the local water authority after its shellfish was contaminated with the norovirus. Regarding the assumptions made about The Fat Duck in the report, both our own experts and those appointed by our insurers believe them to be flawed.”