– Martin and Lindsey Brown of Chorley made fraudulent sickness claim against Jet2holidays
– The UK’s second largest tour operator presented evidence to show that the claim was pre-meditated and fraudulent, and wins another court ruling against fake sickness claimants
– Evidence included a witness statement from a holidaymaker showing the claim was pre-meditated, videos of Martin Brown dancing next to the pool, and social media posts including one of the couple posing with a parrot on an evening out
– Judge says such claims are a ‘scourge’ and convicts them of conspiracy to commit fraud
A pair of fake sickness fraudsters have been convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and ordered to pay Jet2holidays almost £30,000, after a court ruled that they fabricated a false sickness claim to try and win up to £20,000 in compensation, inclusive of legal costs.
Martin and Lindsey Brown, 38 and 35 respectively, both from Chorley in Lancashire, submitted a false claim against Jet2holidays for gastric illness, after staying at the Emre Hotel in Marmaris, Turkey, in 2016.
They made the claim for compensation after stating that they had suffered with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as a result of food poisoning contracted whilst on an All-Inclusive 10-night holiday. Mr Brown even claimed that he had soiled himself in bed, and that his children had soiled themselves at the pool, as a result of their sickness.
They claim this was caused by negligence, and resulted in them being bed-ridden and prescribed medication after a visit to the hotel doctor.
However when investigating the claim, Jet2holidays, the Emre Hotel, and law firm Horwich Farrelly were able to reveal a wealth of evidence showing that the claims were both pre-meditated and a complete fabrication. This evidence includes:
- A witness statement from another holidaymaker stating that Martin Brown had bragged about how he planned to fabricate a false sickness claim to win compensation, and how he had done it before.
- Video evidence showing Martin Brown dancing by the pool, and diving into the pool, despite being allegedly bedridden with nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Video evidence showing the couple walking out of the hotel with their two children on the days they were allegedly bedridden.
- A social media post from a holidaymaker who stayed at the hotel at the same time as the Browns, stating that Martin Brown was not ill and was in a bar until ‘daft o clock’.
- Facebook posts showing the Browns enjoying an evening out despite their alleged illness, including posing for pictures with a parrot.
During the hearing at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, staff and the doctor from Emre Hotel also gave evidence demonstrating that the couple had not been ill. On the back of all this evidence, His Honour Judge Sephton QC convicted the Browns of conspiracy to commit fraud, saying “They sought to benefit by their wrong-doing in a thoroughly dishonest fashion. Dishonest claims are a scourge which are blighting these courts.” He also found that “the representations made by their solicitors were dishonest.”
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “Martin and Lindsey Brown travelled to Turkey having already worked out how to make a fraudulent sickness claim, but thanks to our robust investigation their deception has been uncovered. Jet2holidays has led the way to tackle the issue of false sickness claims so that holidaymakers do not expose themselves to the risks that come with getting involved in such dishonest activity, and we hope this ruling sends out a serious message to others. That message is clear, we will investigate and defend any claims that we believe are dishonest, and the courts do not just take a dim view of such deceit, they are prepared to punish it accordingly.”
Emre Deliveli, Managing Director Emre Hotels said: “I am very satisfied with this result, I’d like to thank Jet2holidays for working with us on this case. We feel that our reputation and high standards have been proved once more and we look forward to receiving more happy UK customers to Emre Hotel and Emre Beach Hotel where they know they will have an excellent holiday.”
In some quarters Britain was referred to as the ‘fake sick man of Europe’ after unscrupulous businesses and touts were able to exploit a legal loophole and encourage a huge rise in fake sickness claims over recent years. This led to a 500% increase in gastric sickness* claims made by British holidaymakers between 2013 and 2016, prompting some hoteliers to warn that they would withdraw holidays from the UK market.
Jet2holidays led the campaign to stamp this out and in April this year, the Ministry of Justice announced the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs to cover holiday sickness claims brought under the Package Travel Regulations, making defence costs predictable and thus deterring bogus claims.
The Government also followed this up by clamping down on the practice of cold calling without consent, and further proposals are being put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority when they take over regulation of Claims Management Companies (CMCs) from April 2019 to ensure there is an end to misleading practices and dishonest activity.
This is the latest court success that Jet2holidays has seen in the fight against fake sickness claims.
In October, four fraudsters were sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, after admitting to concocting a fake claim. Michael Jameson (43), Claire Weir (35) Jane Weir (38) Janet Weir (63), all from Liverpool, were convicted of contempt of court at Liverpool High Court after inventing and submitting a false claim against Jet2holidays.
In June, Liam Royle from Eccles in Manchester was found fundamentally dishonest and ordered to pay Jet2holidays more than £6,000, after his ex-girlfriend presented evidence, including video footage of him dancing to Gangnam Style by the swimming pool, to prove that his compensation claim for gastric illness was fraudulent.