- High Court judge finds patient in contempt for “exaggerating” the effect of his injuries
- Patient claimed he could not work and required ongoing physical and psychiatric care
- Trust commissioned covert surveillance that found patient was exaggerating
A patient who tried to sue a hospital for negligence has been found in contempt of court after a trust commissioned spying operation revealed he was lying about his injuries.
Sandip Singh Atwal was attacked by a man with a baseball bat in 2008, and was treated at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for two fractured fingers and a cut lip, among other injuries, court papers revealed.
Mr Atwal launched a clinical negligence claim against Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust in 2011 totalling more than £800,000 based on a failure to treat the fractures appropriately and suture his lip promptly.
Court papers said the trust admitted liability and made an offer of £30,000, but Mr Atwal put in a damages claim for £837,000 in 2014.
Mr Atwal, who was living with his family in Huddersfield at the time and did not attend a hearing at the High Court in London on 12 April 2018, had claimed:
- he was unable to work as a DJ or courier;
- he was unable to lift items or help around the house;
- he required ongoing care; and
- he required therapy for psychiatric problems
However, the court heard the trust was “suspicious” that his disabilities were not consistent with medical records and commissioned a covert video surveillance operation and an investigation of his social media activity.
Mr Atwal was filmed loading and unloading a van and working as a courier without any apparent pain in his hand.
The social media investigation found Mr Atwal had continued to work as a DJ until late 2011, and had released a music video showing him performing and dancing.
In his published judgment on Friday, Judge Martin Spencer said the surveillance evidence was “crucially important” and had prompted Mr Atwal to abandon his “exaggerated claim” for damages and accept a £30,000 offer from the trust.
He added: “The allegation is that the defendant pursued a fraudulent claim for damages for clinical negligence by grossly exaggerating the continuing effect of comparatively minor injuries, sustained as long ago as 2008, which were negligently treated at one of the trust’s hospitals.
“The solicitors acting for the trust were suspicious. His claimed disabilities were inconsistent with entries in the contemporaneous medical records.
“In 2015, they commissioned covert video surveillance of the defendant and investigated his social media postings, which gave the lie to much of what he was asserting.”
After settling the damages claim, the trust applied for contempt of court proceedings in November 2016 on the basis Mr Atwal had lied about his health to medical and other experts and to the court when he signed statements of truth in support of his witness statement.
Judge Spencer found Mr Atwal was in contempt in relation to 14 allegations.
He said: “The real thrust of this application for committal is that the defendant quite deliberately set out to deceive the doctors and other experts about the extent of his continuing disability, and that he verified by a statement of truth assertions of fact in his witness statement, and in his schedule of loss and damage, consistent with the things he had told the doctors and other experts knowing those statements to be false.”
Mr Atwal will be sentenced at the High Court on 1 June.
27 April 2018