Leading public transport operator First Bus working with leading insurance industry law firm, Horwich Farrelly, has successfully secured the conviction of a fraudster who claimed to have been severely injured when a bus collided with his car, despite not actually being in the vehicle at the time. Following a thorough investigation and committal proceedings, Mr Zafar Iqbal, unemployed, aged 45, was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
The initial claim was made in 2015 when a First Bus vehicle collided with Mr Iqbal’s stationary parked vehicle on Bedminster Parade, Bristol, causing minor damage. Mr Iqbal claimed he was sitting in the vehicle at the time and, despite it only being a small collision, suffered severe pain to his shoulder, leg, back, ankle, upper leg and right side of chest.
Investigations by Horwich Farrelly on behalf of First Bus found that Mr Iqbal was not seriously injured in the collision – in fact he wasn’t even in his vehicle at the time of the incident. CCTV footage shows him standing outside of his car and running after the bus after the incident.
Mr Iqbal admitted to nine grounds of contempt of court and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
In summing up the case at Bristol Crown Court, HHJ Lambert said: “These cases are an assault on our system of justice…Dishonest claims strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice. The impact of false claims on society is great. Those who bring false claims should expect to be sent to prison. The Respondent’s conduct was serious, persistent and wilful. Only a custodial sentence can be justified bearing in mind the threat to justice.”
Commenting on the case, Julie Randle, Fraud Prevention Officer for First Bus’s in-house claims team, said: “Attempted frauds against our companies will not be tolerated. Mr Iqbal had nearly three years to admit to his actions, but greed took precedence. He gave no consideration to the effects of his actions on the travelling public or anyone else.
As this case demonstrates, First Bus will take whatever steps are necessary to defend fraudulent claims through the courts and in Mr Iqbal’s case that has resulted in six months’ imprisonment, a criminal record and fines totalling tens of thousands of pounds.”
Ronan McCann, Managing Partner at Horwich Farrelly, added: “It was right and proper that the courts took a hard line against Mr Iqbal. Despite having plenty of time to admit his claim was false he persisted in pursuing First Bus. A case of this nature demonstrates the very real consequences of making a fraudulent claim. It also underlines the commitment of Horwich Farrelly to continue to work with the industry to combat fraudulent cases and ensure that honest customers do not suffer from the dishonest actions of others.”
Background to the case
- The initial motor collision on Bedminster Parade on 6th July 2015
- Mr Iqbal claimed that he was sitting in his vehicle at the time of the collision, the result of which meant he suffered severe pain to his shoulder, leg, back, ankle, upper leg and right side of chest. Furthermore, he claimed that consequences of the incident caused severe sleep disruption and problems with personal care which meant he was unable to do tasks like shopping, DIY, walking and exercise and could no longer take part in social activities.
- He also alleged that he needed to seek medical advice from his GP, as well as make trips to A&E for various X-rays.
- Despite these claims, investigations by First Bus and Horwich Farrelly found that Mr Iqbal was not injured in the collision and CCTV proved that he was not even in his vehicle at the time; he was standing outside of the car and was seen running after the bus just after the collision.
- Horwich Farrelly and First Bus filed a defence against the claim in April 2016. Upon hearing the evidence against him Mr Iqbal tried to discontinue the claim. First Bus, however, applied to set aside the discontinuance and Mr Iqbal was found to be “Fundamentally Dishonest” and ordered to pay all First Bus costs which are estimated to be in excess of £30,000
- Permission was also granted to bring committal proceedings against Mr Iqbal for contempt of court. The hearing was held at Bristol Crown Court on 24th May 2019 where, just days before the trial, Mr Iqbal admitted nine instances of contempt of court and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
- The main points against Mr Iqbal:
- The case had been ongoing since August 2015 and Mr Iqbal waited until just a few days before the contempt trial to admit he was dishonest about his claim
- Despite stating that he was not aware of the medical claims he was making due to a language barrier, it emerged that the medical expert he used to produce a report for his claim spoke Punjabi and Urdu, Mr Iqbal’s native language
- The Judge also found that Mr Iqbal actively sought to progress his claim by querying the engineers report, and corresponding with his solicitors; a stark contrast to his assertion that he felt pressured to bring a claim by an accident management company
- The medical expert provided a statement confirming Mr Iqbal was well aware of why he was there and was able to describe his ‘injuries’ with full understanding