The expert witnesses who allegedly saved policy providers millions of pounds couldn’t save themselves from jail time.
Seven former employees of Autofocus Ltd – which went into administration in 2010 and which provided insurers with expert rate surveyors – were not only sent to jail but also ordered to pay a total legal bill that could reach up to £1.5 million. They were found guilty of fabricating evidence in cases involving hire car specialists Accident Exchange Ltd.
A report by The Guardian said that the seven untruthfully stated that they had checked spot rates for comparable vehicles in the locality and claimed that Accident Exchange’s charges were inflated and excessive. In six of the cases, the defendants perjured themselves while giving evidence on oath.
According to Accident Exchange’s estimate, there were 30,000 cases affected by the defendants’ signing of false statements related to their rates reports. Accident Exchange’s fraud investigation team uncovered evidence that they had committed perjury and falsified documentation used in court.
Accident Exchange said the falsified evidence was used to reduce legitimate claims for damages for car hire charges brought by traffic accident victims. Steve Evans, former chief executive of Accident Exchange, said, “Autofocus, and those instructing them, were seduced by the commercial and reputational success that their manufactured and dishonest evidence generated.”
Jailed were Autofocus expert and team leader Nathan George Broom (10 months); company director Elaine Carlton Walker (13 months and one week); team leader Duncan Carl Sadler (12 months); Andrew Watts (seven months); David James (eight months); Laurence Gray (six months and three weeks); and Keel Broom (six months). The Guardian said Broom, although guilty of contempt in making false statements, didn’t perjure himself by lying in court unlike the other six.
“The evidence that Autofocus was involved in the systematic, endemic fabrication of evidence in which the defendants and each of them knowingly and actively participated throughout the material time is overwhelming,” the Hon. Mr Justice Supperstone was quoted as saying.
He added that the dishonest actions of Autofocus and the defendants had serious implications not only for the value of Accident Exchange’s shares but also for 300 Accident Exchange employees who were made redundant.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Supperstone also referred to an earlier hearing where another court described the case as “perjury on an industrial scale.”
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