A dishonest clinical negligence claimant who vastly inflated the extent of his injuries has been jailed for three months.
The Honourable Mr Justice Spencer said the punishment handed down to Sandip Singh Atwal should be a ‘warning to all’, in what was the first contempt case pursued by an NHS trust.
Atwal, a part-time disc jockey from Birmingham, attempted to claim £837,000 for personal injuries in relation to finger and facial injuries suffered following treatment at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in 2008.
He claimed to have lost dexterity and strength in his hands which affected his ability to DJ and prevented him working as a courier driver. In fact, video surveillance showed he was perfectly able to drive, lift and carry and continued to work. His career as a DJ continued under the stage name SunnyKMS and he even featured in a music video in 2011 performing with dancers and musicians.He turned down an offer to settle of £30,000.
In his absence last month, the judge found 14 allegations proved against Atwal, saying his claim for care costs was based on a ‘wholly false and fraudulent premise’.
In a hearing today, the court heard Atwal had ‘belatedly’ engaged with proceedings, neither contesting the allegations nor admitting them. Atwal still owes the NHS trust £5,000 in unpaid costs – a direct consequence, added the judge, of his ‘greed and dishonesty’.
The judge said an immediate custodial sentence was necessary to mark these serious contempts, and to deter others.
‘I take into account that you have already been in the media spotlight as a result of my findings of contempt,’ added the judge. ‘That, I am afraid, is part - and a necessary part - of the punishment for such conduct because it is only in that way that the public comes to learn of the seriousness of such conduct, and the seriousness of the consequences for those who indulge in such conduct.’
As well as three months in jail, a further costs order of £75,000 was made against Atwal, although the judge reflected it was unlikely this would be paid.
Helen Vernon, chief executive of NHS Resolution said the sentence ‘sends a very clear message that the NHS is not an easy target and that you cannot submit fraudulent claims with impunity. This landmark decision demonstrates that fraud against the NHS will be investigated by NHS Resolution and, significantly, dealt with robustly by the court’.