EVIDENCE, THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA: FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE EXPOSE DEFENDANT

The judgment of Judge Seymour in Cirencester Friendly Society -v- Parkin [2015] EWHC 1750(QB) provides another example of how the social media and the internet provides ammunition in litigation. Here we have a case of a defendant helpfully providing telling and compelling evidence against himself.

Nemesis overtook from Mr Parkin most dramatically because, like so many people nowadays, in particular those who seem minded to seek to perpetrate frauds, he seemed incapable of keeping off the Internet and sharing the true nature of his activities through social media”

THE CASE

The claimant friendly society commenced an action for a declaration that it was not liable to pay sums to a “member” due to non-disclosure. The Financial Ombudsman had, twice, held that that the claimant should pay. On the second occasion the claimant refused to pay and issued proceedings.  The defendant did not really engage in the proceedings. However it was necessary for the claimant to obtain a judgment.

THE JUDGMENT

  1. This action has had a somewhat unusual history since being commenced on 20 March 2013. Basically, Mr Parkin has participated only to a limited extent, and he certainly has not participated in any of the parts of the litigation process which would obviously have been adverse to him. In particular, he has failed to give proper disclosure and he has failed to attend for a medical examination by a psychiatrist. As a result of that failure, Mr Parkin’s defence and counterclaim in this action has been struck out. An unless order, that is to say an order providing that it would be struck out unless he attended for a medical examination by Dr Holden, was made on 23 May 2014.

  2. Mr Parkin has not appeared or been represented today, which is the trial of this action. Notwithstanding that the defence and counterclaim has been struck out, there has to be a trial because of the nature of the relief which is being sought on behalf of the claimant. It is right to say that in the course of pursuing claims against the claimant Mr Parkin has been guilty of a number of fraudulent representations. There have been fraudulent representations in the claim form in which he asserted what his condition was and that he was incapacitated from working. Moreover, however, on 11 January 2011, Ms Caroline Roper, the health claims consultant instructed by the claimant, visited Mr Parkin at, I think, his parent’s address, and, in response to her inquiries, Mr Parkin basically told her a load of lies. He said that he was separated from his wife, that his wife lived in Cyprus, that he lived with his parents, that his condition had deteriorated in terms of physical weakness and depleted energy and he gave an account of his daily activities which essentially meant that he was incapable of performing any worthwhile tasks. On 15 April 2011, Dr AH Lister, consultant physician in occupational medicine instructed by the claimant, visited Mr Parkin at his parent’s home. Mr Parkin misled Dr Lister in a similar fashion to that in which he had misled Ms Roper as to his circumstances.

  3. Nemesis overtook from Mr Parkin most dramatically because, like so many people nowadays, in particular those who seem minded to seek to perpetrate frauds, he seemed incapable of keeping off the Internet and sharing the true nature of his activities through social media. So it was that it has transpired that, far from being incapable of working and suffering from any such condition as he has described, he is actually an aficionado of a type of sports supercar called “Noble” and seems to have spent the greater part of the last 10 or 12 years refurbishing a Noble sports car and driving it, sometimes racing it, principally in Cyprus. Mr Parkin seems to live in Cyprus, or at least lived in Cyprus certainly until 2012, with, and not separately from, his wife and seems to have continued to use cannabis.

  4. In those circumstances, all of these facts being abundantly demonstrated by evidence which has been put before me in the form of witness statements, documents which have been obtained from the Internet and which have been downloaded and printed and, indeed, in some YouTube contributions showing the Noble sports car and its use, I am satisfied that it is appropriate for me to rectify the injustices which have been perpetrated by the misleading of the Ombudsman, resulting in the awards which I have mentioned on 10 September 2010 and 25 July 2012, by making these orders, which I do.

  5. I set aside the award made by the Financial Ombudsman Service on 10 September 2010 and I declare that Mr Parkin obtained the award by the Financial Ombudsman Service on 10 September 2010 by fraud and, as a consequence, that award is, and was, unenforceable. I set aside the award made by the Financial Ombudsman Service on 25 July 2012 and I declare that the defendant, Mr Parkin, obtained that award by fraud and that, as a consequence, that award is unenforceable.

  6. I make a declaration that the income protection contract with the claimant, which I have mentioned was obtained by the defendant’s fraudulent misrepresentation, and that the claimant was entitled to avoid the contract ab initio by its solicitors’ letter of 29 January 2013, which it did. I declare that Mr Parkin has made reckless and fraudulent statements or declarations to the claimant in connection with his application for membership and/or his claims for benefits under the contract from 29 August 2007 until 28 February 2013, and continuing, in breach of the rules of the claimant, and that the claimant is entitled to avoid the contract between the parties ab initio and/or to expel the defendant from its membership as an alternative to the declaration which I have already granted that the income protection contract is void ab initio.

  7. I order repayment of the sum of £19,096.84 which I have already mentioned was paid by the claimant to Mr Parkin.”

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One comment

  1. […] thanks to barrister Gordon Exall who writes about it in his Civil Litigation Brief with the title Evidence, the Internet and social media: Facebook and YouTube expose defendant. Put as briefly as possible, Parkin claimed that he was too ill to work and received payment under […]

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