Lying claimant loses out on £600,000

A woman found to be a ‘regular liar’ for her own financial benefit has lost out on an otherwise legitimate £600,000 claim because the rest of her case was fundamentally dishonest.

In Williams-Henry v Associated British Ports HoldingsMr Justice Ritchie dismissed the claim of Kirsty Williams-Henry after finding that she told repeated untruths about the scope of her injuries in order to seek £2.5m in damages. The genuine quantum was assessed at £600,000 but Williams-Henry will receive nothing more than existing interim payments as a result of the court’s finding. It is one of the largest such dismissals since the rule was established under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

‘On balance, I do not find that it would be a substantial injustice to dismiss the claim,’ said Ritchie. ‘I know it looks like a large sum of money to deprive a genuinely injured person of, but by drafting and passing [section 57] parliament sought to stamp out dishonesty which is fundamental in personal injury claims and the claimant has breached this law. The claimant was wholly unrepentant when she gave evidence and had sought, in parallel, to defraud the DWP and L&G insurance about her disabilities.’

The claimant, now 33, suffered a brain injury when she fell from Aberavon Pier in July 2018. She brought a claim against the pier owner and liability was settled at two-thirds in her favour, leaving just the issue of quantum.

Aberavon Beach, South Wales

Over the course of an 11-day trial, the court heard that Williams-Henry, an insurance worker, claimed for £1.6m for loss of earnings, £1m for care costs, £338,000 for past losses and £246,000 for therapies.

As a result of the accident she suffered skull fractures, damage to her left ear, injuries to her ankle, hip and toe and psychiatric injuries. She was in intensive care for eight days and in and out of consciousness for three weeks.

But the court heard that her condition improved to the point where she started a phased return to work in November 2018. She travelled by train or in colleagues’ cars, and in the same month she went to London’s Winter Wonderland – a crowded, noisy event with carnival rides.

The judge went through a series of events attended by Williams-Henry, catalogued by her social media posts, which showed that she was overstating the effects of her condition. The judge noted that at a Spice Girls reunion gig in May 2019 she ‘did not stop screaming, singing and dancing’. Around the same time, Williams-Henry went on holiday to Zante where she went on beach walks and a boat trip. The judge said there was no photographic evidence of her using a walking stick or having balance issues, and he did not consider she was depressed at the time.

Filling in a life insurance form in 2020, Williams-Henry lied about never drinking alcohol and then stated she had no lasting psychological or emotional problems or memory loss. She was highly praised in her work annual performance review and herself wrote that her condition had ‘massively improved’.

After liability was settled she told a brain injury case manager about dozens of ongoing physical and cognitive symptoms. Ritchie described this as a ‘huge and, in my judgment, largely fabricated list of complaints’.

‘The accident is not the cause of any continuing pain symptoms and has not been for years,’ he added. ‘The claimant’s symptoms of altered left leg sensation are not related to the accident. Her hearing loss will require hearing aids for life. She should have been able, had she been genuine, to live independently since mid 2019.’

The judge made no order that she repay. Evidence served by her mother and a doctor stated there was a risk she might take her own life if found to have been fundamentally dishonest. The judge said he would balance these factors by making no order that she repay the £75,000 of interim payments already received.


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