In a ringing warning that neither the insurance industry nor the courts will put up with exaggerated compensation claims, a cyclist who fraudulently sought more than £3 million in damages by ‘telling a pack of lies’ about injuries he suffered when he was hit by a lorry has been jailed for his flagrant contempt of court.
Majid Khan, 36, plotted with his wife, Humaira Khan, 29, and his father-in-law, Atlaf Kiani, 61, to dupe insurers into believing that his brain injuries were so severe that he could not feed himself, work or even recognise his own mother. However, his claims were exposed as ‘seriously exaggerated’ when video footage captured by private investigators showed him leading an apparently normal life.
After the trio admitted contempt, the High Court jailed ‘prime movers’ Mr Khan and Mr Kiani for nine months each. Mrs Khan was given a seven-month suspended sentence for her lesser role and they were together ordered to contribute £39,000 towards the legal costs of the Lloyds of London underwriters who had brought them to book.
The Court ruled, “Aided and abetted by Mr Kiani and his wife, Mr Khan embarked upon a deliberate fraud, seriously exaggerating the effect of his injuries so as to obtain a greater sum by way of damages to that which he would have been legitimately entitled.”
There was no dispute that Mr Khan, a warehouse worker, had suffered a serious head injury when he was hit by an articulated lorry while riding a bike to work in 2008. He sustained a fractured skull and brain injuries which required a prolonged stay in hospital and an operation on his right frontal lobe.
The Court noted, “Happily, in Mr Khan’s case, he made a good recovery from his injuries and the damages to which he was entitled were relatively modest. However, unhappily, both he and Mr Kiani tried to take advantage of the situation for financial gain.”
Mr Khan managed to convince a doctor that he had reduced cognitive function and mobility as a result of the accident and refused an offer from insurers to settle his case for £75,000. Instead, he pursued a massive damages claim to cover his purported need for 24-hour care, an extension to his house to accommodate his disabilities, holidays, travel and language therapy costs. His claim totalled ‘in excess of £3 million’.
Mr Kiani and Mrs Khan swore witness statements to support the claim, saying that Mr Khan could no longer look after himself and required their devoted round-the-clock care. They asserted that he ‘rarely spoke’ and was ‘unable to communicate effectively’ or to have a ‘meaningful social life’, to work or even ‘to recognise his mother, brother or sister’.
The Court found that those statements were ‘a pack of lies’. The covertly shot video footage showed Mr Khan ‘functioning, essentially, as a normal person’, crossing the road, visiting friends, managing his affairs and enjoying a normal social and family life.
The Court observed, “This was a planned, relatively sophisticated fraud carried out over a period of three months. It was only brought to an end by surveillance. I have no doubt that, if not for that surveillance, they would all have persisted with this deception and would have stood a good chance of succeeding in their objective… because of the damage done by false claims, those who make them can expect to go to prison if their conduct is discovered. No other punishment will do.”
Faced with the video footage, Mr Khan had ultimately accepted the £75,000 offer, although, after legal costs, he was unlikely ever to see a penny of that. Of previous good character and generally a ‘hard-working member of society’, the Court ruled that nine months’ imprisonment was the least sentence that could be imposed.
There was no reason to distinguish Mr Khan and his father-in-law, who had taken on the role of his litigation friend in support of his claim. Mrs Khan, who had a 15-month-old daughter, had her sentence suspended after the Court found that her role in the plot had been less serious.