Fantasists who falsely claim to be victims of are reportedly being allowed to keep thousands of pounds in taxpayer-funded criminal injuries compensation.
‘Nick’, a man who sparked after making false child abuse claims against former Tory Home Secretary and ex-Army chief , has so far been allowed to keep up to £50,000 in criminal injuries compensation, the reported.
It was also alleged that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) had yet to retrieve £11,000 it paid to Danny Day, a “chronic liar” from Bromley, Kent, whose false rape accusation put David Bryant behind bars for two years before the former Dorset fire chief was declared innocent.
As the head of the Commons Justice Committee pledged to investigate the issue of false claimants keeping their compensation, there was also criticism of a “compensation culture” that has seen some law firms publishing “sexual abuse compensation calculators” on their websites.
The money seemingly paid to fantasists was also in stark contrast to genuine rape victims who according to a recent study by criminologists at Anglia University are frequently because they have convictions for minor offences like failing to pay a TV licence.
The revelations come days after the Metropolitan Police was revealed to have to Lord Bramall and the family of the late Lord Brittan over the force’s handling of the false child sex allegations.
Lord Bramall was accused by Nick in 2014, and only cleared after his wife had died.
Lord Brittan had his house raided by police, and the case against him was only dropped after he
“Nick” who cannot be named for legal reasons, was said to have so far been able to keep his compensation despite now being under investigation by Northumbria Police over allegations of perverting the course of justice.
In November it was reported that senior Metropolitan Police officers had actually helped Nick process his compensation application, in an apparent attempt to build trust by showing they believed him.
At the time the Ministry of Justice refused to confirm or deny whether Nick had received compensation, but legal commentators suggested that having the police help him with his application would have significantly improved his chances of getting a pay-out.
Criminal injuries compensation rules also allow victims to apply even if the perpetrator of a ‘crime’ has not been identified or prosecuted.
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Calculations based on the CICA tariff of injuries table suggested Nick could have been granted up to £44,000 plus damages for loss of earnings.
Rupert Butler, the lawyer for David Bryant, who was jailed on the word of Danny Day, a man later found to have sought medical treatment for being a “chronic liar”, told the Telegraph: “Danny Day got £11,000 compensation for the alleged rape. There is no provision for clawing back the money once it has been paid out, even in the event of somebody successfully appealing the conviction.”
Mr Butler added that the CICA might be reluctant to launch legal proceedings to retrieve compensation because the cost of going to court could end up being greater than the original pay-out, which the fantasist might already have spent anyway.
Conservative MP Bob Neill pledged to raise the issue at the all-party Commons Justice Committee, which he chairs.
He said: “It is quite wrong that it should be so easy for people to be paid compensation on the basis of something that has not been tested and proved, and even worse that nothing is done to get that money back if the allegations prove to be false.
“I hope steps will be taken to recover this money and if there is no mechanism to do so there certainly ought to be one.”
The CICA refused to comment on specific cases but said it did everything it could to recover money wrongly paid out.
In its it also pledges to “ensure all incidents of fraud or suspected fraud are dealt with”, to “seek to recover awards of compensation, from the public purse, if awarded as the result of a fraudulent claim”, and to “report fraud to the relevant police authority”.
Justice Minister Phillip Lee said: “Whilst fraudulent claims are rare, it is crucial that any accusation of abuse of the system is fully investigated. Where it is clear a claim is false, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority works closely with the police to prosecute perpetrators and recover any funds paid out.
“It is vital that the public can have absolute confidence in the system. We will not hesitate to take action if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered.”