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October, 9, 2018
Solicitor and doctor motivated by profits get custodial sentences as wrong documents uncover web of insurance fraud.
Abuse of privileged positions results in combined sentences of 21 months.
Working closely together, Horwich Farrelly and LV= General Insurance have secured the convictions of a former solicitor and a doctor who were found to have independently assisted in a fraudulent insurance claim. Reflecting the total abuse of their positions, both were given custodial sentences. The solicitor was sentenced to 15 months in jail while the doctor was given a suspended sentence of six months.
Kamar Khan and Dr Asef Zafar were found guilty of contempt of court after presenting spurious medical documents on behalf of a claimant as evidence in a personal injury insurance claim. The deception came to light when the law firm accidentally submitted both the real report (stating an injury of one week) and the altered one (claiming six to eight months of pain).
Horwich Farrelly began investigating the group after a claim was brought against LV= by a Mr Iqbal who had been involved in a road traffic accident in December 2011. Mr Khan, Director of Taylor, Knight and Woolf, was acting on behalf of Mr Iqbal and arranged for a medical examination by Dr Zafar, of Med Admin Limited.
Mr Iqbal attended a medical appointment with a Dr Asef Zafar and allegedly reported that he had recovered from his minor injury, which had only lasted a few days. Despite the initial report stating that Mr Iqbal “fully recovered from his injuries within a week of the accident”, a second report was orchestrated by Mr Khan and Dr Zafar that greatly exaggerated the injuries suggesting they lasted 6 to 8 months.
The solicitors had only ever disclosed to Horwich Farrelly the exaggerated 6-8 month report but unfortunately for the group, both the initial correct report stating injuries lasted only one week and the exaggerated report were submitted to the courts in error by an unqualified paralegal in August 2013.
The initial report from Dr Zafar confirmed that he had fully recovered by the time of his examination and that there were no further symptoms whilst a handwriting expert also confirmed that Mr Iqbal’s signature was forged on the falsified witness statement, with Justice Garnham finding that it was solicitor Mr Khan who forged the document.
At the contempt hearing Mr Iqbal said he was told by his solicitors to “follow” the revised medical report in court in order to prove their case. When the case was exposed Mr Khan and Dr Zafar tried to cover their tracks by going back on previous statements and denying involvement. However Horwich Farrelly was able to produce the hard evidence to prove otherwise.
When summing up the case at the Royal Courts of Justice, Judge Justice Garnham said that by investigating this “LV= had done the Court a service” He added: “… critical to the operation of our system of justice is the trust that courts have to place in solicitor and expert witnesses. Those who make false claims should expect to go to prison. Solicitors and expert witnesses who act dishonestly in the evidence they give to the court, whether in support of such claims or otherwise, must expect a similar outcome.”
In terms of motivation Justice Garnham stated on Mr Khan: “I have no doubt your motivation was greed pure and simple,” and on Dr Zafar “You were motivated first by your desire to keep the report writing factory you had devised running at full capacity so as to continue making the astonishing profit you told me about and then by the cowardly desire to cover up what you had done.”
Commenting on the case, Martin Milliner, Director of Claims at LV=, said: “Whilst this case has taken a considerable amount of time, effort and cost, it has been worth it in order to send a stark warning to the “professional enablers” of fraudulent claims. We place a lot of trust in our lawyers and doctors to act with integrity, which makes it even more shocking when they behave in such an unscrupulous way. LV= is always prepared to stand up to fraudsters to protect the premiums and the rights of our honest customers.”
Ronan McCann, Partner at Horwich Farrelly, added: “A case of this nature is unprecedented. The public’s trust in both the medical and legal profession has been severely let down. It took a herculean effort to get behind issues such as legal privilege and confidentiality but we managed to unearth a fraud and tackle professionals who sought to assist in the bringing of a fraudulent claim, focusing on profit as opposed to their overriding duties to the public and court alike. This case has taken over 5 years to reach its conclusion and it would have been very easy for LV= to walk away on any number of occasions, but they insisted on fighting for the principles involved.”