A former travel agent who claimed a colleague had injured her by stabbing her hand with a pen has been sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years.
Allianz, who insured her employer, instructed DAC Beachcroft to defend the compensation claim and bring an action for contempt of court when it became apparent that the claimant had lied repeatedly to the police, an employment tribunal and ultimately the civil court.
Paravash Kiani had been dismissed by her employer in December 2015 for gross misconduct. She subsequently alleged that she sustained physical and psychological injuries as a result of being stabbed in the back of the hand with a biro pen on 10 February 2015. She sought to rely on photographs of her alleged injuries to support her claim.
Whilst it was accepted that a former colleague had pressed a pen against Kiani's hand as a joke, it was strongly denied that the circumstances of the accident had caused her any injury.
The former travel agent brought a claim against her ex-employer in the Employment Tribunal, which was unsuccessful. The police took no further action following her reports of the alleged criminal offences committed by her former colleague. She then issued a civil claim.
At a two-day trial in Central London County Court in March 2020, a judge dismissed Kiani's claim for personal injury and found that she had been fundamentally dishonest because of the lies she had told to the court. The judge held that she had 'concocted the claim', that the pictures she had provided as 'contemporaneous evidence of injury' had been taken two years after the incident, and that she had 'encouraged her daughter to lie under oath'.
Subsequently, Allianz Insurance brought criminal proceedings against Kiani, seeking committal to prison for contempt of court. She made admissions in relation to the remaining allegations of contempt at the hearing and, at a later sentencing hearing, she was sentenced to six months suspended for two years. She was also ordered to pay the claimant's costs.
Mr Justice Spencer stated in his judgment: 'Those who make such false claims if caught should expect to go to prison. There is no other way to underline the gravity of the conduct. There is no other way to deter those who may be tempted to make such claims, and there is no other way to improve the administration of justice.'
James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz Insurance, commented: 'People don't always realise what they risk by bringing a fraudulent insurance claim, but the lies they tell in support of such a claim could land them in trouble. At Allianz, we have zero tolerance to fraud and not only will we detect attempts, but we will also make sure that fraudsters face the consequences of their actions. It is very important to us to protect our customers from false allegations. We achieved this result thanks to close collaboration with DAC Beachcroft, who did tremendous work on this case.'
Claire Laver, head of casualty fraud at DAC Beachcroft, added: 'This sends another crystal clear message to Claimants that fraud will not be tolerated and those who are found to be fundamentally dishonest run the real risk of receiving a criminal conviction. The true extent of the harm caused by fraudsters is not only measured in financial terms but, as in this case, the relentless false allegations, lies and accusations made by Kiani against her former colleague will also have had a negative impact on his life. Justice has prevailed thanks to the hard work and dedication of Kerry Bell of DAC Beachcroft and the counter fraud team at Allianz Insurance who were determined to see that justice is done.'