HAVERING LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL v (1) MARK BOWYER (2) JAMES JONES (3) RICHARD BOWYER
A local authority sought to commit 3 defendants for contempt of court.
A personal injury claim was bought against a local authority fraudulently. The authority initially admitted liability until disclosure revealed a large deal of discrepancy in the accounts given by the first defendant. His father and friend had also given fake witness statements in support of the fake account.
Consequently, the local authority issued proceedings that alleged contempt of court. All admitted contempt except the father of the “injured” party. All 3 men were found guilty of contempt of court.
It was held that it was essential to the case to make a distinction between those who had played a principal role in the scheme and those who had merely supported it. Whilst the allegedly injured party had stated that he was the main person involved, it looked likely to the court that although the initial idea of a fraudulent claim was his, he had relied on a lot of advice and guidance from his father, without which the scheme would probably have ended.
His father was the real driving force behind the ongoing deception and his attempt to exonerate himself in contesting the dealings was substandard.
The friend of the “injured” party got off rather lightly, in that he merely had a supportive role as opposed to a principal role, which was innocently formed our of a foolhardy desire to help a friend. Regardless, all 3 defendants had a lot of opportunity to have stepped away from their deception.
A prison sentence was inevitable in order t0 act as a deterrent for other people thinking of making similar claims. The “injured” party and his friend received some lessening in their sentencing tariff due to their genuine remorse and received a two month and one month prison sentence respectively. Due to his pugnacious denials of contempt of court, the father received a four month sentence.