A man who racked up a string of dishonest compensation claims will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court after he was accused of fraud.
Nathan Williams, who lives in a GBP500,000 flat in London’s Soho, is charged with eight counts of attempting to procure money by dishonest means over a period of seventeen months, from November 2007 to mid-2008.
He claimed that he had been injured by tripping over loose, broken or uneven paving in areas all over South and Central London, alleging that his injuries included a broken hip and ankle as well as numerous other more minor injuries to his face, knee, foot and, of all things, a bruised testicle.
His mistake lay in reporting the majority of his ‘injuries’ across a very short period of time, in June 2008, which alerted the authorities. Before long, realising that he was either Britain’s most accident-prone man or something more dishonest was happening, Haringey, Hackney, Lewisham, Wandsworth, Tower Hamlets, Elephant and Castle, Greenwich and Westminster councils contacted the police and Williams, 38, of Dean Street, was arrested.
Ed Argar, of Westminster City Council, said it is important that officials must strike a balance between fairness to genuine claimants, whilst protecting taxpayers from cheats at the same time.
He said: ‘We take all claims seriously and do our best to investigate them to ensure any claims made against the council are genuine and made in good faith. We are determined to be fair to genuine claimants, but to protect our taxpayers from false claims.’
A local government spokesperson then apparently blamed the rise of no win no fee solicitors for the rise in unscrupulous claims:
‘Since “no win, no fee” was introduced, almost all councils have seen an increase in compensation claims.
‘Of course, where people have a legitimate claim they’re entitled to compensation, but there’s a real fear that “no win, no fee” lawyers are clogging up the system with spurious claims from people just chancing their arm.’
Which raises the question: was Williams blatantly pulling injuries out of a magician’s hat or did he actually hurt himself, but not severely enough to genuinely pursue these compensation claims?
Earlier this year the Mail reported on the story of a street in Liverpool that had been the subject of a litany of unlikely compensation claims over a relatively short period of time.
The local council had noticed a flurry of claims, all from injuries apparently sustained in West Derby Road, flood in, and of course didn’t pay any of them.
Most people in the compensation industry, despite its position as the whipping-boy of the right-wing media, would fully agree with the councillors. Spurious, dishonest claims are a waste of everybody’s time and divert resources and legal help away from members of the public who have actually been hurt.
Compensation exists to repair a gap left in somebody’s finances by their accident, if it affects their ability to work. It is also to pay damages if somebody had suffered detriment: ie pain, suffering, defamation, etc.
People like Mr Williams obviously view it as a get-rich-quick scheme, which misses the point. A claimant actually has to be injured and needs medical certification to prove it. What’s more, they need to be seriously injured enough for it actually to be worth the defendant paying them money. If they are not seriously hurt, then their claim will fizzle out or they will be advised by their lawyer that there is no point pursuing the action further.
If Mr Williams and people like him want to get rich quick, they should buy a scratchcard.