Olympic volunteer loses £27,000 payout after making dishonest gardening claim
- Credit: Archant
A man who was injured while volunteering at the London Olympics has lost all his £27,758 damages payout because of his dishonest claim for gardening expenses.
Haydn Sinfield fractured his left wrist when he fell during the 2012 Games and liability for the accident was admitted by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
Last year a judge at Oxford County Court awarded Mr Sinfield the damages and rejected LOCOG’s case that his entire claim should be dismissed because he had been “fundamentally dishonest”.
Mr Sinfield originally said that pre-accident, he and his wife Christine did all the gardening on their two-acre plot, which needed a lot of upkeep.
But he now had to employ a gardener and asked for a sum of £14,033 - which represented about 28% of his entire damages claim.
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LOCOG’s inquiries revealed that Mr Sinfield had employed a gardener since May 2005 and that invoices produced had not been issued by the gardener.
Mr Sinfield, who has since down-sized, later accepted that he employed a gardener before the accident but said that he now had no alternative.
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He said he worded his statement badly as he was “not good with words” after a stroke and thought he was entitled to prepare the invoices because he was self-billing.
LOCOG appealed to London’s High Court and, on Monday, Mr Justice Julian Knowles set aside the award.
He said that the only reasonable meaning to be attached to what Mr Sinfield said was that, before the accident, the gardening was done solely by him and his wife, whereas the injury had, for the first time, necessitated the employment of a gardener.
The judge, who regarded this as the product of “muddle and confusion”, should have found it was dishonest misrepresentation, he added.
Mr Sinfield had created false invoices and a dishonest witness statement, and this was premeditated and maintained over many months.
As he had been “fundamentally dishonest” in this way, the fact that the greater part of the claim might be honest was “neither here nor there” and it should be dismissed.
The judge was wrong to say that this would be substantially unjust and that the gardening claim was peripheral - as originally presented, it was a very substantial part of the claim.