BLM, the UK and Ireland’s leading risk and insurance law business, has successfully ensured the prosecution of a man bringing a fraudulent claim the total value of which exceeded £50,000 against Oldham Council. Mark Washington had alleged that he had fallen down an open manhole whilst looking for his dog on derelict council property.
Washington pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court after admitting forging a letter from a former employer in support for a fictitious claim loss of earnings of £17,000. An investigation undertaken by BLM on behalf of Oldham Council established that the letter was a forgery. The company in question had no knowledge of the letter put forward by the claimant, nor had any intent of offering him employment having dismissed him some years previously.
The matter was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and Washington was charged with fraud by use of a false instrument. He pleaded guilty to making a fraudulent claim for loss of earnings supported by legal documentation last week and was today sentenced to a 13-month custodial sentence to be suspended for 18 months. He will also serve 250 hours community service, and is subject to a six-month supervision order as well as a two-month curfew order.
Commenting on the sentencing, BLM Partner Paul Tarne said:
“This case highlights the Courts are prepared, at a time when local authorities are under extreme financial pressure, to ensure false claimants are held to account, and should act as a deterrent to others considering entering a false claim in the future.”
Emma Alexander, Executive Director Corporate and Commercial Services at Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, added: “Over the last five years Peter Washington continuously refused to admit he had acted fraudulently and it was only on the first day of his trial that he came clean.
“The council could have paid out his claim and the bill would have run into the thousands of pounds. Now that money can be used to improve services and neighbourhoods across the borough. Hopefully the sentence handed down by the court will act as a warning to anyone else who thinks they can get away with defrauding the council and ultimately all council tax payers.”