Death threats over a bag of crisps: the perils of working in-house

An in-house lawyer at United Biscuits’ (UB) has exposed the perils of working in the snacks business after receiving death threats when the price of Space Raiders crisps rose by 5p. 

Space raiders

In an interview with The Lawyer, to be published Monday (4 November), UB’s head of corporate legal affairs Simon Rose shows that it’s not all sugary in the biscuits business.

“Some of our products have achieved almost cult status,”  he explains. “When we had to increase the price of our Space Raiders crisps to 15p [from 10p] in 2008, an angry campaign began on Facebook which included death threats against myself and fellow directors. It demonstrated the darker side of social media in the most bizarre of contexts.” 

The in-house lawyer has also advised on a cake that needed its own body double. There have also been some rather unusual projects on Rose’s to-do list, including a fruit cake for the Queen. 

“The secrecy around William’s Royal Wedding cake and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee cake [both of which UB made] was probably even greater than one would associate with M&A involving a listed company,” says Rose. “We had Kroll advise us on security for the development areas. Although we didn’t end up taking the option of the retina scan they proposed, it was imperative that information, and especially photographs, did not get into the press before the big day. 

“This took a lot of careful planning and many meetings with the Royal household, who were very sensitive about confidentiality. The duplicate cakes were a safety precaution, and they never travelled together, just in case the unthinkable happened.”

Thankfully, nobody put their foot in it, so the back-up Jubilee cake now sits in a glass cabinet in the reception area of UB’s Hayes head office. It includes 50kg of dried fruit soaked in three litres of whisky and brandy, with five tiers representing different aspects of the Queen’s life.

Read more in our in-house interview, out on Monday.