Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Exaggerated injury claim leaves mother facing 'likely' prison sentence

After exaggerating an injury in a bid to claim £750,000 compensation from a housing organisation, a mother of 13 and her husband are facing ‘likely’ prison sentences.

Lawyers for Homes for Haringey told the High Court that Barbara Fari had lied about how badly she was hurt when she tripped on uneven paving and twisted her right knee in May 2008.

The organisation, which manages council housing in the north London borough, admitted liability and offered Ms Fari £7,500 but she pursued a larger claim.

It was only struck out by a judge in October 2012 after video evidence revealed a huge difference between how she presented at medical examinations and when she was out and about near her home in Lightfoot Road, Hornsey.

Jennifer Harris, Homes for Haringey’s solicitor, said: ‘This decision sends the strongest possible message to anyone tempted to exaggerate a personal injury claim. The justice system will not tolerate it and the claimant risks losing not just compensation but also their liberty.

‘It was a landmark decision by an earlier court to strike out the entirety of Barbara Fari’s claim. Today’s ruling reinforces that decision.

‘The fact that both Mr and Ms Fari face a potential custodial sentence sends a stark warning to those tempted to inflate their claims and anyone who helps them to do so.’

Today, Mr Justice Spencer ruled that Ms Fari and her husband, Piper, were both in contempt of court and warned that she was likely to be going to prison unless he was persuaded otherwise at another hearing at the end of next week.

Ms Fari claimed that the fall had aggravated her pre-existing arthritis to the point where she was no longer able to look after her large family and instead relied on their care.

The couple denied contempt and Ms Fari, who is illiterate, said that she relied on the advice of solicitors and simply signed documents which were not explained properly.

She claimed medical experts misinterpreted what she told them and that the compensation offer of £7,500 would have suited her.

But, the judge said that she had presented a ‘grossly false’ picture of her continuing symptoms to doctors and legal documents and that her unemployed husband of 27 years was complicit in the charade.

The judge said the surveillance evidence was the key to arriving at the truth.

Even making allowances for someone with existing arthritis having good and bad days, it was impossible to reconcile the apparently sprightly Mrs Fari of the videos near her home with the badly crippled woman who attended medical examinations.

Near her home she never used a stick, let alone a crutch, walked to the shops on her own and negotiated a steep gradient without undue difficulty.

Rejecting her claim that she was misunderstood by medical experts, he said: ‘All three doctors cannot have made the same mistake.’

Next week, the judge will hear medical reports and character references relating to the couple, who were both of previous good character.

Related

Articles

  • Brixton bailiff shooter faces years behind bars

    16 January 2014

    A tenant who gunned down a housing officer and bailiff during an eviction is facing years behind bars, despite being cleared of attempted murder.

  • An attempt to muzzle dangerous dogs

    27 August 2014

    Anti-social behaviour powers should provide greater protections for housing staff, other visitors and even other dogs. But, asks Jennifer Tate, will it be enforceable?

  • Health at home

    16/05/2014

    Modest changes to the way service providers work together could improve the health and prolong independence of social tenants

  • Lessons from lifting people out of fuel poverty

    19 June 2014

    As a preview of his Chartered Institute of Housing conference event, Nigel Banks discusses tackling the nine million households in fuel poverty with lessons he’s learned.

  • One-way street

    21/03/2014

    Low-income households struggle with rising housing costs while the middle classes complain about how bored they are, says Julie Fawcett

Resources

  • The key to recovery

    25/10/2013

    Can living in general needs homes give drug and alcohol abusers a better chance of recovery? Caroline Thorpe reports on the three-year pilot study in Northamptonshire that tried to find out

  • Acting out to tackle domestic abuse

    28/03/2014

    An interactive training course is helping housing professionals in the south west identify and tackle domestic abuse. Lydia Stockdale finds out how

  • Mind over matter

    09/05/2014

    A Merseyside landlord is training its staff to become mental health first aiders to help them support both colleagues and tenants, as Helen Clifton reports

  • Better together

    14 November 2013

    By working with a social enterprise to bring 15,000 homes back into use, Leeds Council proved that a collaborative approach is best. John Statham reports

  • Expert opinion

    14/03/2014

    Board members need to keep the idea of public service uppermost in their minds, writes Julie Fadden

IH Subscription