Crash Victim Didn't Mislead Court

Insurers have failed in a High Court bid to recover most of the £3.4 million damages it paid out to a Dorset man left seriously disabled from a road crash in Hampshire.

In December, Direct Line alleged 43-year-old Mark Noble from Wareham had lied about the extent of his injuries which, he said, left him dependent on a wheelchair and crutches.

Mr Noble was awarded the sum by Mr Justice Field in March 2008 after motorist Martin Owens admitted liability for the September 2003 accident, in which Mr Noble was knocked off his motorcycle on the A336 near Cadnam.

The judge said Mr Noble, a builder by trade, could no longer work and needed daily care after a "severe and life-threatening'' fracture to his pelvis caused him considerable pain and a serious psychiatric disorder.

Later that year, after a neighbour's tip off, the insurers arranged surveillance on dates between December 2008 and March 2009 which led to the case going to the Court of Appeal - which said it should be re-examined - and an order was made freezing the £2.25 million already paid out.

Mr Justice Field, in London, has dismissed the claim that Mr Noble had dishonestly misled the court.

He 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 there was any truth whatsoever in the allegations but said he had always tried to do as much as he could, despite his injuries.

Hard work in the gym, strong medication and a cortisone injection had got him to the point where he could walk short distances without crutches on a good day, but otherwise he needed a wheelchair or other transport.

He said that his motivation to walk without crutches was to walk his partner, Janet, down the aisle unaided.

His ability to work, as shown in the surveillance evidence, was a modest improvement - but not a dramatic or significant one.

The judge said in light of the evidence, he had come to the conclusion that the insurers had failed to prove the allegation of fraud against Mr Noble, who he described as a "proud and determined man''.

He added:

"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.''