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Published 13 February 2019
A defendant who brought a claim against his employer for personal injury amounting to a sum in excess of £250,000 was yesterday sentenced to a 16-month imprisonment and ordered to repay £2,500 in costs.
In January 2013, Amar Masud alleged that he hurt his back when he was required by his employer to lift a table-top weighing 80-90kgs. He went on to claim that he had suffered a 10 year acceleration of a previously asymptomatic disc prolapse and that he had been unable to work since the accident.
His claim for special damages totalled £248,000 and general damages were reserved at £20,000. Included in his pleadings was a significant claim for benefits to include mortgage interest payments made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Breach of duty had been admitted but there were serious concerns regarding Masud’s credibility. He alleged that he had not worked and was incapable of work post-accident, yet he was seen working in a local chip shop when surveillance was undertaken. He was also observed walking unaided on many occasions yet he had claimed that he was housebound.
Masud’s claim was struck out when his solicitors were removed from the court records and permission was then given to commence proceedings for contempt of court. Masud took no part in the subsequent proceedings and did not attend the committal hearing yesterday.
His Honour Judge Blair QC found Mr Masud to be in contempt of Court and sentenced him to 16 months' imprisonment. In doing so, the judge used strong language to describe Masud's fraud and was extremely critical of his failure to co-operate throughout the entire process.
Claire Laver, Head of Casualty Fraud at DAC Beachcroft, commented: “This is a brilliant result and testament to the hard work and dedication of our solicitor Kellie Maguire. I am delighted for those at AXA Insurance who had the foresight and commitment to see it through to the end.”
Andy Williams, Technical Strategy Manager at AXA Insurance, commented: “This outcome is testament to the robust fraud strategy AXA has had in place for a number of years and our unwavering commitment to protect our policyholders. The DWP benefits element of the claim goes on to highlight the public interest in this case and that fraud is not a victimless crime. I commend our solicitors DAC Beachcroft and our legal counsel for their meticulous preparation of the case, and also the judge for acknowledging the seriousness of this matter. Hopefully this outcome sends a serious message to other would-be fraudsters.”
During the trial, the judge commended DAC Beachcroft’s Kellie Maguire and counsel Simon McCann for their exceptional preparation of the case and the professionalism with which it was presented.
This sentence is one of the longest handed down for contempt of court proceedings. The maximum sentence is two years and can also be punishable with a fine.
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