Judge lashes out at ‘industrial-scale perjury’ over 30,000 crash compensation cases
A top judge declared himself “flabbergasted” by claims that 30,000 crash compensation cases have been infected by “industrial-scale perjury”.
Accusations of systematic fraud are being thrown at seven former workers at Autofocus Ltd, now in liquidation, whose job it was to investigate, on behalf of insurance companies, typical car hire rates in areas where crashes occurred.
The company’s research results were used in a vast number of cases to calculate reasonable contract car hire rates for replacement vehicles – but they are now said to have been based on hundreds of phantom telephone calls that were never in fact made.
Lord Justice Moses told the High Court today: “This seems to me so grave that, at first blush, the mind boggles. If proved, it is difficult to think of a more serious conspiracy.
“What we are talking about is industrial-scale perjury … the victims are the courts, the administration of justice, the public, you and me.”
And, ordering documents in the case to be sent to the attorney-general, Dominic Grieve QC, for a decision to be made on whether criminal prosecutions should be launched, the judge added: “I was flabbergasted when I read about this case.”
In the first case of its kind, credit care hire firm Accident Exchange Ltd (AEL) is mounting a High Court bid to have the seven former Autofocus workers jailed for alleged contempt of court.
Counsel for AEL Guy Vickers said the company had “overwhelming evidence” in the form of telephone records that hundreds of research calls the seven claimed to have placed to test local car hire “spot rates” had never in fact been made, and responses were simply “invented”.
The barrister claimed the scam had been perpetrated over “at least three years”, between 2007 and 2010. He said that, across the credit car hire industry, “there may have been 30,000 cases affected by this type of evidence”.
Vickers said that Birmingham-based AEL’s investigations had revealed “rank cynicism by the people involved, on a day-to-day basis … it is quite staggering”.
Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin, granted AEL permission to launch contempt-of-court proceedings against the seven former Autofocus workers, and ordered the case files to be sent to the attorney-general.
He said: “We are talking about industrial-scale perjury. If that isn’t something that will attract the attention of the attorney-general, or the director of public prosecutions, I don’t know what is.”
Opening the way for AEL to pursue its bid to have the seven jailed, Irwin J emphasised that nothing has been proved against them.
“We have to be careful not to say anything at all that could be seen to prejudge,” he added.
The judges gave the attorney-general three months to view the documents and decide on any steps he might take. AEL’s case will return to the High Court for a full hearing thereafter.
The seven former Autofocus “rate surveyors” facing contempt proceedings are:
- Nathan John George-Broom, of Walker Gardens, Wrentham, Beccles, Suffolk
- Elaine Carlton Walker, of Lynton Road, Hucclecote, Gloucester
- Andrew Watts, of Brookhurst Avenue, Bromborough, Wirral
- David James, of Eton Drive, Thornton Hough, Wirral
- Laurence Gray, of Gordon Close, Old Marston Road, Oxford
- Keel Broom, of Chatres Piece, Willingham St Mary, Beccles, Suffolk
- Duncan Carl Sadler, of The Oval, Bicester, Oxfordshire