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Merlin Entertainments appoints new general counsel as theme park owner admits liability over crash

Merlin Entertainments, owner of attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, has appointed a new general counsel as the listed company admits liability over a rollercoaster crash which left 16 injured.

Longstanding group legal director and company secretary Colin Armstrong will leave after nearly a decade, as Linklaters trained Matt Jowett (pictured) takes on the role of general counsel.

Jowett was previously general counsel and company secretary of VT Group, and prior to that headed the legal team at concrete business, RMC Group.

Jowett has taken the reins from Armstrong and will head Merlin’s legal and company secretarial department, provide operational and strategic advice, and manage internal and external legal and company secretarial support for the group worldwide.

For UK external counsel, Merlin currently uses Ashurst, TLT, and Fladgate on an exclusive basis. Jowett is understood to be currently reviewing the company’s internal and external set up of legal services.

His appointment comes during a turbulent time for the company, which has been mired in controversy after its Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers crashed last year, leaving 16 people with injuries.

Late last week, Merlin subsidiary Merlin Attractions Operations admitted charges of breaching the Health and Safety Act and had instructed barrister Simon Antrobus at Crown Office Chambers.