UK

DJ found in contempt of court after NHS compensation bid

still from Sunny KMS music video Image copyright Youtube
Image caption Atwal appeared in a music video during the period in which he claimed he was unable to work

A DJ who tried to claim £837,000 from the NHS for negligence has been found in contempt of court.

Sandip Singh Atwal, 33, from Birmingham, went to hospital for injuries to his hands and lip after being attacked in 2008.

He said the treatment he received was negligent, and had left him unemployed and dependent.

But the DJ was filmed working as a courier and dancing in a music video for a single he also released.

It is thought to be the first time an NHS trust has brought such proceedings.

Atwal - whose stage name is Sunny - was found in contempt of court on 14 counts.

The trust said the ruling highlighted the consequences of submitting "dishonest and exaggerated claims".

On 20 June 2008, Atwal, who was working in his family's taxi firm, was injured in an attack with a baseball bat and went to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

He was treated for fractures to the index finger of his right hand and the ring finger of his left hand, and a laceration to his lower lip.

Image caption Atwal could now face up to two years in prison

He later brought a claim for negligent treatment, which was admitted by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, who offered £30,000 to settle the case.

But Atwal asked for £837,109, including very substantial sums for future loss of earnings and future care, on the basis he was unable to work and grossly incapacitated.

In order to justify the much larger claim, Atwal said he was suffering from disability, self-consciousness about his lip and hands, had becoming a social recluse, suffered alcohol dependence and reliance on pain killers and was unable to work as a DJ or a courier between 2010 to 2015.

But the NHS trust was suspicious, put Atwal under surveillance and investigated his social media postings which "gave the lie" to much of what he was asserting, said the High Court judge Mr Justice Spencer.

Surveillance footage showed Atwal working and lifting heavy items, with no visible signs of discomfort, leading the trust to accuse him of fraudulent exaggeration.

In March 2016, Atwal said he would accept the trust's compensation offer made nearly five years earlier.

However, the whole of the £30,000 compensation went to pay the trust's costs, with Atwal ending up after eight years of litigation owing it £5,000.

Heavy bags

The High Court ruled that 14 allegations of contempt relating to false statements by Atwal had been proved. They included:

  • Claiming he was unable to work as a DJ because of the loss of strength and dexterity in his hands
  • Telling a specialist that he had lost the confidence to perform as a professional DJ and had to delegate to an assistant
  • Telling a consultant it was impossible for him to do any lifting that was part of the job of a courier driver
  • Telling a care expert that he was unemployed
  • Saying in a witness statement that he was unable to carry heavy bags
  • Asserting that he needed ongoing physical and psychological support

The case is believed to be the first time an NHS trust has brought contempt proceedings against someone for making a dishonestly inflated medical negligence claim.

Atwal is due to be sentenced on 1 June unless he can bring a successful challenge against the ruling.

The maximum sentence for contempt is two years imprisonment.

NHS Resolution, on behalf of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said the case should be seen as a demonstration of its commitment to combating fraud - but should not deter genuine claimants.