In a significant boost to the insurance industry’s efforts to stamp out fraud, an aircraft mechanic who exaggerated the extent of his disabilities following a slipping accident at work has been found in contempt and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by the High Court.
The mechanic had sought £250,000 damages in respect of the October 2007 accident which he claimed had left him requiring crutches and enduring back pain so severe that his wife had to help dress him. However, lawyers representing his former employers and their insurers produced covertly shot video evidence which showed the claimant engaged in heavy house renovation work.
In passing sentence, Lord Justice Moore-Bick told the claimant: “We are satisfied that you did lie to the doctors who examined you and greatly exaggerated your symptoms and ability to lead a normal life. You knowingly gave a false description of your condition in your witness statement. You did all these things to affect the outcome of proceedings. You set out to mislead the insurers and the court and probably would have succeeded had it not been for the surveillance “
Observing that such behaviour “strikes at the very heart of the rule of law…the fundamental pillar on which the whole of civil society is based” the judge added: “Those who put forward false claims must expect heavy punishment in the form of a sentence of imprisonment. Honest people expect fraud to be punished. This was a serious and persistent attempt to mislead the court.”
Shaun Underhill, a Partner at local firm Shentons Solicitors and Mediators commented “The courts are sending out a strong message to those who believe insurance fraud can be committed without rebuke; it is important that those considering committing insurance fraud are aware of the very serious consequences which will be visited upon them.”