UK lawyer who hurled spat at AI staffer dies
A senior UK-based international human rights lawyer who repeatedly hurled expletives and spat at staffer on board a Mumbai-London Air India flight in November 2018 after being refused wine and was jailed in April, has committed suicide.
The video of Simone Burns, 50, went viral and was played in the Isleworth Crown Court during the April hearing, when she was sentenced for six months in jail. She was released on licence from the Bronzefield women’s prison on May 20 and found dead days later in Sussex.
The Sussex police have now identified the body as that of Burns: “The body of a woman found at Beachy Head on June 1 has been identified as Simone Burns from Hove. The death is not being treated as suspicious and the next of kin have been informed. The matter has been passed to the coroner’s officer.”
Mark Kimsey, lawyer representing Burns, had sought a suspended sentence during the April hearing, telling the judge of her many positive deeds as a human rights lawyer in various countries: “She is deeply ashamed of her behaviour; extremely apologetic and does not give any excuses for her behaviour.”
He said since the video of her behaviour went viral, her reputation has been destroyed and faced a torrent of threats and abuse, confining her to her home and refraining from practising in courts. Her abuse was directed at Air India and Indians.
The six-month jail sentence was pronounced after a 5-minute video of Burns abusing, shouting and spitting at the flight crew in an inebriated state was shown in court, where she sat quietly with a plaster across her nose during the proceedings.