Re: Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust v Rhys Williams Claim Number QB-2021-001844 Committal Hearing – 1 November 2021
A claimant has been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 7 months, having fabricated a minor accident at an NHS trust. NHS Resolution challenged the employers’ liability claim, on behalf of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and brought committal proceedings.
Mr Williams sought damages of £5,000, together with physiotherapy charges of £510, for injuries arising from an alleged accident on 22 November 2019 which he said occurred while working for the trust as a security guard.
Following a committal application heard before HHJ Anne Whyte on 1 November 2021 at the Royal Courts of Justice, the court found that Mr Williams had fabricated the accident with the intention of making a claim for compensation. Mr Williams was sentenced to 7 months.
In commenting on the case HHJ Anne Whyte said: “I would be failing in my duty to the public by not imposing an immediate custodial sentence”, noting that “In this case the defendant has brought an entirely false claim, rather than simply exaggerating his injury. At every step his conduct was intentional and this is extremely serious” and “…the modesty of the claim does not remove the seriousness of the contempt”.
This was a blatant attempt to defraud the NHS. Genuine claimants have nothing to fear however where there is evidence of a fabricated or exaggerated claim we will continue to take steps to protect public funds and to pursue a custodial sentenceHelen Vernon, Chief Executive, NHS Resolution
NHS Resolution has successfully pursued a number of actions for contempt of court in recent years resulting in jail sentences. On 11 February 2021 Ms Linda Metcalf was sentenced to six months in jail for deliberately attempting to defraud the NHS in excess of £5.7 million.
Mr Williams began a claim in December 2019 for compensation regarding an alleged accident he had at work when he said he had slipped on some cardboard on the floor. The alleged accident was reported to the trust and around a month later Mr Williams instructed solicitors to pursue a personal injury claim on his behalf. After a period of investigation a settlement was reached in the sum of £5,010 plus Mr Williams’ solicitors’ costs.
Shortly after settlement the trust received evidence that Mr Williams had staged the accident with a view to make a claim for compensation. Evidence was disclosed to Mr Williams’ solicitors who repaid the settlement monies and costs, and confirmed they were no longer acting on his behalf.
NHS Resolution was represented by principal associate Felicity Flint and fraud partner Sarah Hopwood from national law firm Weightmans LLP.
These proceedings should not deter genuine claimants, as the trust and NHS Resolution will continue to ensure that those who have suffered injury as a result of accidents on NHS premises are properly compensated. The trust and NHS Resolution do not take decisions lightly to commence committal proceedings but given the evidence obtained against Mr Williams, a former employee, it felt this was appropriate action. This is a stark reminder to potential claimants in personal injury matters of the need to remain honest as to the occurrence, manner and effect of accidents which they say occur on NHS premises.