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Michael Hayton QC

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Michael Hayton QC - Deans Court Chambers


  • Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School
  • St Anne’s College, Oxford MA (Oxon)
  • Inns of Court School of Law


  • Leader of the Northern Circuit
  • Head of the Criminal Team
  • Appointed to the Bar of Northern Ireland
  • Recorder 2012
  • CPS Advocates Panel - Silk
  • Approved Counsel for the Falkland Islands
  • Master of the Bench of the Honorable Society of Lincolns Inn

Professional Associations

  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Health and Safety Lawyers’ Association
  • Northern Circuit


Michael Hayton is recommended year on year by both Legal 500 and ranked as a Leading Individual by Chambers UK, in general crime and regulatory work. Predominantly defence counsel, he has appeared as leading junior on many occasions. His practice concentrates upon the most serious cases on the criminal calendar as well as regulatory and criminal cases of the utmost complexity. His clients have included professional people, including doctors and police officers, charged with frauds and misconduct relating to their work. He also appears in sports related litigation and tribunal work. He has advised and appeared in other jurisdictions including the Isle of Man and the Falkland Islands.

Regulatory Work

Michael Hayton’s regulatory work covers all areas of health and safety prosecutions and professional conduct. He specialises particularly in medical clients, acting for Doctors in inquests, criminal proceedings and professional conduct hearings. His coroners work regularly includes Article 2 death in custody inquests. He has appeared in many Health and Safety prosecutions for both corporate and individual clients, normally in cases involving fatalities or multiple serious injuries and often within the construction and food industries. He was trial counsel in the leading case of HSE v Chargot and others and has conducted many Crown Court trials in HSE prosecutions.

Professional Discipline

Mr Hayton has conducted numerous IOP and FTP hearings on behalf of the GMC before turning to defence work 5 years ago. He is experienced in a full range of highly complex fitness to practice hearings which dealt with allegations of dishonesty, conviction and performance. These have included the ‘Bloodgate’ case which attracted international media attention. As well as appearing before the GMC panel, Mr Hayton has also conducted hearings in the Administrative and High Courts.

Mr Hayton is regularly recommended by Chamber and Partners for Professional Discipline Work, and offers seminars and in house training to Professional Discipline solicitors as well as the MDU and other regulatory bodies.


His practice in crime covers all areas, including fraud and other dishonesty offences; computer crime including breaches of copyright legislation; drug offences including significant conspiracies involving large amounts of both money and drugs; money laundering; sexual offences; firearms offences including the running of firearms to sectarian groups in Ireland; and offences of violence up to and regularly including murder. Michael Hayton’s practice is predominantly defence work, although he prosecutes for the Crown Prosecution Service including murder and has acted for other prosecuting authorities in regulatory prosecutions.

Notable Cases

  • Professional Discipline

    GMC v Dr Bawa Garba

    Represented the Doctor in her review hearing. Dr Bawa Garba had been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter of a 6 year old boy in her care at a Leicester hospital. Following her conviction a Fitness to Practice panel determined that she should be suspended from practice, but on appeal by the GMC this was replaced with erasure. The case was then further appealed to the Court of Appeal including the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls and erasure was replaced with suspension.

  • Professional Discipline

    GMC v Mr BQ

    Defending prominent eye surgeon and developer of intra ocular lenses who is being investigated for allegedly dishonestly recommending and carrying out surgery on 24 patients in his care at the Harley Street London Eye Hospital. The case is listed for 10 weeks.

  • Crime

    R v AT

    Defended the first defendant in back to back trials involving abuse of young children in a local care home in the 1970s onwards. The Defendant was a carer at the home and had been previously convicted of sexual and physical abuse at the home, which was adduced at these trials. The Defendant was acquitted of multiple rapes and out of more than twenty counts on the indictments was eventually convicted of two child cruelty charges against one complainant which amounted to two common assaults.

    Wisteria Lodge: Seven men deny child cruelty

  • Crime

    R v JSG

    Defended a retired police officer for the murder of his elderly mother. The case involved uncontested pathology evidence as to the method of killing being asphyxiation by smothering.

  • Crime

    R v AT

    Successfully defended care worker accused of rape and sexual assault upon children in the 1980s and 1990s at a care home in the Midlands. Three week trial concluded with acquittals on all counts.

  • Crime

    R v Derrick Cooper and others

    Part of Operation Hydrant, a nationwide investigation into abuse by persons of prominence or at institutions by teaching staff. Acting for the prosecution involving historic abuse by teachers at a school for boys with social and welfare issues in the 1970s and 1980s. The case involved a 2 month trial in Carlisle Crown Court after which the Principal and Owner of school was convicted of an offence of assault and another of child cruelty. He awaits sentence.

  • Crime - (Murder)

    R v Vicnenzo Tavano

    MH was instructed as leading counsel for the Crown in the prosecution of Vincenzo Tavano. Mr Tavano is charged with the murder of Giuseppi Roncari, a well known local Italian restauranteur and businessman. Mr Roncari was found dead in his Salford flat in April 2017. He had been strangled and had a plastic bag tied over his head. Mr Roncari’s property had been searched and credit cards and his Jaguar car had been stolen.


  • Crime - (Murder)

    R v Mark Buckley

    MH was instructed as leading counsel for the defence in the murder trial of Mark Buckley. Mr Buckley is alleged to have killed Ellen Higginbottom, an 18 year old A level student. The body of Ms Higginbottom was found in the Orrell Water Park, near Wigan.


  • Crime (Murder)

    R v Hurst

    Michael Hayton QC begins on 10 July 2017 a two week murder trial for the prosecution. The Defendant is charged with the Murder of Matthew McKenzie in Heywood in January 2017. Mr McKenzie’s body was found in an alleyway close to midnight by a local man walking his dog. He was stabbed multiple times including the fatal wound to the heart.

  • Crime

    R v Devonta Neish and others

    Gangland murder in Moss Side Manchester. 8 week trial involving multiple defendants.

  • HSE v Essar Oil Limited

    Represented Essar Oil Limited before Davis J inthe Liverpool Crown Court when the company was fined £1,650,000 for an offencecontrary to the COMAH Regulations 1999. The prosecution arose from an explosionthat took place at the Stanlow Oil Refinery at Ellesmere Port in November 2013.No injuries were sustained by any person but it was accepted that the risk ofharm was high, and that a fatality could have resulted.

    The refinery is the second largest in the UK andprovides one in every 6 litres of petrol purchased nationwide as well as beingan amor manufacturer of diesel and aircraft fuels. The refinery is COMAH(Control of Major Accident Hazards) site and the company has a turnover for thesite of approximately £5 billion.

    Whilst Essar acknowledged their guilt at anearly stage there were protracted negotiations over many months regardingdisputes between experts as to the level of culpability to be ascribed to thecompany for its failings. Further, the prosecution sought to bring the companywithin the “Very Large Company” section of the Sentencing Council DefinitiveGuidelines, which would potentially have attracted a sentence outside the£10,000,000 maximum envisaged within the guideline table covering “Large”companies. Expert accountancy evidence was relied upon by the defence insupport of submissions as to proportionality.

    Ultimately, following written and oralsubmissions, the case was dealt with on the basis of Harm Category 1, which wasalways conceded, and medium culpability with some aggravating features and wassentenced well within the range set down for “Large” companies.

  • Inquest

    Inquest re Cristal Pigment UK Ltd

    Complex issues of scientific nature dealt with following a major explosion in a chemical plant on Humberside.

    River Humber closed to shipping following a leak of a chemical cloud of titanium tetra chloride.

  • Inquest

    Inquest touching upon the death of PC William Barker.

    Death of a police constable in the execution of his duties during the Cumbria floods in Cockermouth. National publicity and attention.

  • Inquest

    Inquest touching upon the death of David Donohoe

    Substantial inquest lasting several weeks into death of man who had been prescribed pain killing tablets from which he subsequently overdosed. Involved issues as to scope of inquest. Reported at R (on the application of Sreedharan) v HM Coroner for the County of Greater Manchester and others [2013] EWCA Civ 181

  • Inquest

    Inquest touching upon the death of Christopher Heaton

    Two week inquest involving complicated and convoluted expert evidence in construction industry context.

  • Inquest

    Inquest touching upon the death of David Astley

    Death in Custody case.

  • Health and Safety

    R -v- Chargot Limited

    UKHL 73 Defence trial counsel for Ruttle Contracting one of two companies prosecuted for fatality at work. Advised upon appeal. Now a leading case.

  • Health and Safety

    R -v- Frederick Jones

    Defence Junior. Double manslaughter case involving Legionnaires disease contracted from the Copthorne Hotel, Cardiff

  • Health and Safety

    R -v- Swindell (David)

    [2008] EWCA Crim 3277 Defence counsel in 3 week fatality prosecution. Brown verdicts.

  • Health and Safety

    HSE -v- PC Richardson

    Defence counsel in fall from height at Sellafield whilst dismantling irradiated chimney stack from the 1957 “Windscale Fire”; Britain’s biggest nuclear disaster.

  • Health and Safety

    HSE -v- Unichem PLC (Boots Chemists)

    Defence counsel for company in prosecution relating to fall from height resulting in fatal accident at place of employment.

  • Health and Safety

    HSE -v- James Thompson

    Defence counsel for company in prosecution relating to a fatal accident at place of employment.

  • Health and Safety

    Oldham MBC -v- Travis Perkins

    Defence counsel in Crown Court prosecution for accident at work involving significant crushing injuries.

  • Health and Safety

    HSE -v- E W Cartons

    Defence counsel for company in prosecution relating to a fatal accident at place of employment.

  • Health and Safety

    R -v- Graham (George Robertson)

    [2009] EWCA Crim 2846 HSE prosecution; Howe examined regarding level of fine.

  • Health and Safety

    R -v- Graham (George Robertson)

    [2009] EWCA Crim 2846 HSE prosecution; Howe examined regarding level of fine.

  • Professional Discipline

    GMC vs Dr Wendy Chapman

    Acted on behalf of the General Medical Council against the Harlequins RFC "Bloodgate Scandal" doctor.

  • Professional Discipline

    Re: Dr O

    Instructed to represent the interests of medical professionals in the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia Related Deaths in Northern Ireland. ( The Inquiry is examining the deaths of a number of children and the treatment that they received whilst in hospital.

  • Firearms

    R -v- Benjamin Wilson

    (Central Criminal Court) Defence Junior. Two month trial involving the running of machine guns and other firearms to sectarian groups in Ireland

  • Crime

    R -v- Mu Yong Lin

    Defence Junior. Morecambe Bay cockle pickers. Seven month trial alleging manslaughter of 21 Chinese cockle pickers. This case led to the introduction of the Gangmaster (Licensing) Act 2004. Junior counsel for one of the Chinese gangmasters

  • Manslaughter

    R - v - Jamie Watson

    Defence Junior. Secured acquittal for manslaughter. Mob attack home of paedophile in revenge attack and deceased died following fall from balcony as he attempted to escape.

  • Murder

    R - v - Hugh McMahon

    Defence Junior. Defendant acquitted of murder following drug related knife attack.

  • Murder

    R -v- Leanne Potter

    Defence Junior for first defendant acquitted of murder. Victim died 4 months after alleged assault.

  • Murder

    R -v- Raymond Hughes

    Defence Junior for first defendant in revenge murder of alleged police informant.

  • Murder

    R -v- Paul Culshaw

    Defence Junior. Full life sentence for murder of Lancaster prostitute.

  • Murder

    R -v- David Burns

    Defence Junior. 16 year old defendant acquitted of murdering his brother-in-law on grounds of provocation.

  • Murder

    R -v- Richard Johnstone

    Defence Junior. Joint street attack on victim who died some weeks later. Substantial medical causation issues of some complexity.

  • Murder

    R -v- Brendan Woods

    Defence Junior. Defendant acquitted of murdering his brother in a knife attack on grounds of lack of intent.

  • Murder

    R -v- William McInnes

    Prosecution Junior. “Body in the boot murder”. Defendant convicted of murdering his partner and leaving her body in the boot of a rental car in Blackpool where it was discovered some weeks later.

  • Murder

    R -v- Vladamir Brandejes

    Defence Junior. Czech national who with a co-worker robbed and killed their employer before fleeing the country. Extradited back to UK.

  • Murder

    R -v- Ian Grant

    Defendant strangled his wife in alleged steroid “rage” following argument.

  • Murder

    R -v- Luke Harvey

    Defendant charged with murder of young traveller in an alleged revenge attack following theft of a motor cycle. Convicted of manslaughter.

  • Murder

    R -v- Shaun Jackson

    Defence Junior. Defendant murdered his friend following drunken argument.

  • Murder

    R -v- Stephen Brown

    Defendant killed his mother’s boyfriend who had made sexual advances to the Defendant’s partner. Medical causation issues. Defendant pleaded to manslaughter.

  • Murder

    R -v- Sajad Ali

    Doorman killed drunken club goer.

  • Fraud

    R -v- Pamela Tickle

    Leading defence junior in large scale NHS fraud in chain of optician shops, involving sums in excess of £1 million

  • Fraud

    R -v- A K and others.

    Prosecution counsel in Major Crime Unit prosecution. Property fraud.

  • Fraud

    R -v- Philip Johnson

    Junior counsel for leading defendant, a blind chartered accountant, in a large scale fraud and blackmail case.

  • Fraud

    R -v- Chris Sanders

    Operation Emersed multi million pound MTIC fraud.

  • Drug Conspiracy

    R -v- Wallbank (Lindsay Sarah)

    [2010] EWCA Crim 2172 Drug conspiracy involving undercover police officers.

  • Crime

    R -v- Edward Izzet

    [2004] EWCA 586

  • Crime

    Chief Constable of Lancashire -v- Lisa Marie Potter

    [2003] EWHC 2272 (Admin) One of the leading cases on Anti-Social Behaviour Orders

  • Crime

    R -v- John Dunlop

    [2001] EWCA Crim 1808

  • Death by Reckless Driving

    Attorney General of the Falkland Islands -v- Shaun May (Stanley)

    Defence Junior. Secured acquittal in the first prosecution in over 60 years for causing death by reckless driving on the Falkland Islands.

  • Sexual Offences

    Attorney General of the Falkland Islands -v- Colin MacDonald (Stanley)

    Defence Junior in historic sex abuse.

  • Manslaughter

    R-v- Paul Edensor

    Defended tram driver who was three times the speed limit when he hit and killed a pensioner on Blackpool promenade

What the directories say

"He's brilliant technically and very good at strategy." "He is a fabulous advocate - when you are in court with him you always feel you're in the presence of someone on the top of their game." "A heavyweight silk who is technically outstanding and a formidable jury advocate."

Chambers and Partners, 2022

‘ Concise and clear. ’

Legal 500, 2022

"A supremely good advocate. He has a fantastic amount of court experience." "He is exquisite in cross-examinations, and his overall thoughts on a case are always spot on." "He's a good performer who is very knowledgeable in this field."

Chambers and Partners, 2021

A powerful advocate - most impressive before a jury - who gives outstanding performances, meaning he is considered the go-to silk for historical sexual offence trials.’

Legal 500, 2021

Michael is first and foremost an outstanding trial advocate. He brings a wealth of experience and gravitas to a case which sets him apart from others. Aside from that he is a great criminal tactician with a superb legal mind.’

Legal 500, 2021

"He provides clear and down-to-earth advice. His knowledge and experience is clear to see, which has been incredibly reassuring for our client." "He is absolutely superb in court: a dream to listen to and a fantastic advocate."

Chambers & Partners, 2020

‘ Excels before a jury. ’

Legal 500, 2020

Specialises in criminal and regulatory work. He represents companies and their directors in health and safety prosecutions and also prosecutes on behalf of local authorities. He has considerable experience in cases involving workplace fatalities. "He has an extremely attractive style of presenting a case." Recent work: Acted in HSE v Alan Munson, a case regarding a fatality at a waste management plant in Lincolnshire.

Chambers and Partners, 2019

‘A redoubtable advocate.’ ‘He is a formidable advocate.’

Legal 500, 2018

Specialises in criminal and regulatory work. He represents companies and their directors in health and safety prosecutions and also prosecutes on behalf of local authorities. He has considerable experience in cases involving workplace fatalities. "Highly knowledgeable and professional. He has outstanding advocacy skills."

Chambers and Partners, 2018

‘Very experienced across a panoply of criminal matters.’

Legal 500, 2017

'He has the ear of the court.'

Legal 500, 2016

He is an exceptional jury advocate, and judges warm to him.’(Regulatory, health and safety, and licensing)

Legal 500, 2015

Always willing to go the extra mile. (Crime)

Legal 500, 2015

Specialises in health and safety investigations and professional discipline. (Regulatory, health and safety, and licensing)

Legal 500, 2014

He is very shrewd tactically. (Crime)

Legal 500, 2014

He regularly defends professionals in disciplinary cases.

Chambers UK 2014

'very, very good advocate,' who, 'because he comes from a cut and thrust criminal background, knows how to examine a witness and to impress a jury.' He has a wealth of experience and is acknowledged to be 'a powerful performer'.

Chambers UK 2013

Attracts praise for his astute advocacy in court and user-friendly advice to clients.

Chambers UK 2013

Predominately concentrates on defence briefs, particularly those involving complex issues and fatalities.

Chambers UK 2012

Very effective advocate who makes the most of what he has to work with.

Legal 500, 2010

Clear-thinking and articulate advocate’, and ‘is acclaimed for his defence work.

Chambers UK 2010

Very effective advocate who makes the most of what he has to work with.

Legal 500, 2009

Man for the big occasion.

Chambers UK, 2009

He gets results.

Legal 500, 2008

An excellent client manner...Hard working and efficient.

Chambers UK, 2008

A robust court performer

Legal 500, 2006

An impressive advocate. He fights till the fat lady sings

Legal 500, 2005


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