Wareham damages payment 'was not fraud'

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A Dorset man who won £3.4m in damages after a road crash left him seriously disabled did not act fraudulently, a High Court judge ruled.

Direct Line alleged that Mark Noble, 43, of Wareham, lied about the extent of his injuries following the collision in Cadnam, Hampshire, in 2003.

He suffered a fractured pelvis after being knocked off his motorcycle.

Mr Justice Field, at the High Court in London, dismissed the bid by Direct Line to recover the money.

The same judge awarded Mr Noble the compensation in March 2008 after another motorist admitted liability for the crash on the A336.

He said Mr Noble, a builder, could no longer work and needed daily care after the "severe and life threatening" injury which caused him considerable pain and a serious psychiatric disorder.

'Proud and determined'

He was also dependent on a wheelchair and crutches.

A neighbour's tip-off prompted Direct Line to carry out surveillance on Mr Noble between December 2008 and March 2009 which led to the case going to the Court of Appeal. An order was also made, freezing £2.25m already paid out.

The judge said: "At the time of the quantum trial, Mr Noble was determined to try to walk unaided and may have been confident that somehow he would succeed in doing so, but he did not dishonestly conceal from the court or the expert witnesses his then true state of disability or dishonestly emphasise his disability."

Mr Noble denied exaggerating his injuries and said hard work in the gym and medication meant he had sometimes been able to work short distances on crutches.

The judge described Mr Noble as a "proud and determined man" and said: "If Mr Noble really did dishonestly conceal the true state of mobility, he would have had to have spun an extremely wide and complicated web of deception."

'Cannot forgive'

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Noble said: "Direct Line have made a tragedy more painful and extreme and I can't forgive them for what they have put me through.

"I try to make the best of every day and continue to work hard for a better quality of life."

Mr Noble's solicitor David Williams said: "After three uncertain and troubling years, it is at last time for Mark Noble to get on with his life.

"Over a year ago the majority of his damages were frozen meaning that he was unable to put in place many of the arrangements he wanted to so that he could get on with his life following these devastating injuries."

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