A woman who lied about the extent of her injuries and disabilities following negligent surgery and sought more than £2.3m in compensation has been jailed for five months.
Lesley Elder was ultimately awarded only £120,012 by the court in 2016, with the judge concluded her claim was dishonest to the criminal standard.
Ms Elder alleged that, as a consequence of the admitted negligence in 2010, she suffered severe and unremitting pain which was exacerbated by movement.
She said she had to walk with the aid of a walking stick, using crutches on occasions and a wheelchair for longer trips. She also claimed that she had not been able to go on holiday since the surgery, save for a trip to Egypt in October 2015, that she was unable to work from 2013 onwards and that she needed care and assistance during the day and night.
However, surveillance evidence in 2016 showed Ms Elder walking without any mobility aids, including trips to the shops with her daughter and to the supermarket. She also attended a hen party in 2012 in Ibiza for one of her daughters.
The trial judge said: “I have been forced to the conclusion that important elements of this case represented a determined attempt by the claimant to extract several million pounds from the National Health Service by way of a claim that, although founded on a proper and indeed unanswerable complaint, nevertheless was inflated beyond all reason.
“It was principally supported by the claimant’s evidence that was, in part, dishonest, and in part, grossly exaggerated.
“I find it especially troubling that the claimant sought to suppress the surveillance evidence and that even after disclosure of the same, the claim, unaltered, proceeded to a full trial. Absent the surveillance evidence, a terrible injustice would have been done to the National Health Service.”
Sentencing her, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith described this case as “a very serious contempt of court”, noting that Ms Elder had lied in witness statements, to medical experts and when giving evidence in court.
Helen Vernon, chief executive at NHS Resolution said: “We are pleased that the seriousness of this case has been recognised by the courts.”
Browne Jacobson, instructed by NHS Resolution, represented the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton.