A man who sued Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council for £10,000, claiming he was injured after tripping in a hole in the payment, has been found guilty of contempt of court and jailed for four months.
Benjamin Grix injured his knee in September 2013. He sued Doncaster, saying the injury had been caused by a missing water box.
An investigation into the validity of the claim identified posts on Grix’s Facebook profile indicating he had suffered the injury when playing football.
Grix withdrew his claim when the posts were highlighted in the council’s defence.
The council – advised by law firm Weightmans and insurers Zurich Municipal – then obtained permission to bring proceedings against the claimant for contempt of court.
At a hearing in the High Court on 25 August 2017 Grix admitted that the claim was fraudulent. He has now been convicted of contempt of court for signing court documents with a statement of truth when he knew the facts were false. He was sentenced to four months in prison.
Judge Graham Robinson said that Grix had told deliberate lies in an attempt to secure compensation and such fraudulent claims cost the insurance industry large sums of money every year. He added that “the system of civil justice is so seriously damaged by this that people who make fraudulent claims must expect to be sent to prison”.
Cllr Joe Blackham, Cabinet Member for Highways, Street Scene and Traded Services at Doncaster Council said: “Doncaster Council adopts a zero-tolerance approach to fraudulent claims. As this case demonstrates, the council’s insurance team will take all appropriate steps to investigate and pursue suspected fraud in order to ensure that public funds are protected.”
Peter Wake, Head of Local Government Claims at Weightmans and the solicitor for Doncaster MBC in this case, said: “This is another important case for one of our local authority clients. It is vital that contempt cases such as this one are pursued as it is the only way to deter fraudsters and protect the public purse.”