Fraudster jailed and our Trust creates NHS legal history

This man was DJ-ing at the same time as he was trying to fraudulently claim more than £800K from CHFT saying he had been left unfit for work after treatment.

The video was part of the evidence against him and on 1st June he was jailed for three months and ordered to pay £75K in costs. The case saw us make legal history and made headlines across the nation's press and TV networks.

The case was brought after a covert surveillance - paid for by NHS Resolution - was started after suspicions about his condition. At the same time as he was claiming for his "extensive" injuries he was attending our A&E unit with footballing injuries.

We are the first Trust to have taken action in this way. 

Sentencing Sandip Singh Atwal at the High Court, the judge said: "The depths of your deception were revealed by covert video surveillance...which proved that you were perfectly able to work, to drive, and to lift and to carry activities which you were still claiming not be able to manage. My firm and clear conclusion is that a sentence of immediate custody is necessary to mark these serious contempts, and to deter others. I am satisfied that appropriate punishment can only be achieved by an immediate custodial sentence”

It all started after Atwal was attacked by a man with a baseball bat in 2008, and was treated at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for two fractured fingers and a cut lip. He claimed more than £800,000 based on a failure to treat the fractures appropriately and suture his lip promptly. Initially we had admitted liability and made an offer of £30,000, but Mr Atwal put in a damages claim for £837,000.

Atwal, who was living with his family in Huddersfield, claimed:

  • he was unable to work as a DJ or courier;
  • he was unable to lift items or help around the house;
  • he required ongoing care; and
  • he required therapy for psychiatric problems

However, the court heard the Trust was “suspicious” that his disabilities were not consistent with medical records and commissioned a covert video surveillance operation and an investigation of his social media activity. Atwal was filmed loading and unloading a van and working as a courier without any apparent pain in his hand.

The social media investigation found Atwal had continued to work as a DJ until late 2011, and had released a music video showing him performing and dancing.

The Trust’s legal team commissioned covert video surveillance of Mr Atwal in 2015 that exposed him working and lifting heavy items, using his phone and driving with ease. His social media posts also showed him working as a DJ – Sunny KMS – including featuring in a music video.

The judge also said at the hearing: “In August 2011, when notified of your prospective claim, the Trust immediately made an offer. That was, if anything, a generous offer. You did not accept it. Instead you pursued a dishonestly aggravated claim, and by November 2014 when your schedule of loss and damage was served, the claim was pleaded at over £837,000. It included a claim for £255,000 for future loss of earnings, and a claim for £421,000 for future care needs and equipment and the cost of employing someone for household tasks you could no longer do yourself.  Those claims were based upon what you were falsely telling the medical and care experts was your continuing level of disability resulting from the negligent hospital treatment. 

Our Head of Legal Services, Gerard Curran, said: “This is a landmark case for the NHS as a whole, and, as the Trust involved, we should be really proud. This sentence shows that if you dishonestly pursue an aggravated claim then the Trust will not accept this and will fight it. 

“The custodial sentence sent out a strong message of how serious it is to dishonestly exaggerate and should, hopefully, now deter others from doing it.”