Autofocus seven found guilty

Industrial Scale Fraud Proven

‘Autofocus Seven’ found guilty in ‘industrial scale’ fraud case

Judgement over seven former employees of Autofocus finds them guilty of perjury after giving false hire rate evidence in court.

Seven former employees of Autofocus, the disgraced provider of hire rate evidence to solicitors in road traffic accident cases, have been found guilty of perjury after an eight-week trial.

Judgement in the case of Accident Exchange Ltd v Nathan George-Broom and others was handed down at 9.30am on the 24th May 2017.

Mr Justice Supperstone said: “Autofocus was involved in the systematic, endemic fabrication of evidence in which the Defendants … knowingly and actively participated throughout … is overwhelming.”

Three of the seven defendants (Nathan George-Broom, Elaine Walker and Andrew Watts) had admitted the offences against them during the trial.

With regard to the other 4 (David James, Keel Broom, Laurence Gray and Duncan Sadler), the Judge was “satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that all the allegations against them had been proved”.

The case was brought by Accident Exchange after its fraud investigation team uncovered evidence that the individuals named had committed perjury and falsified documentation used in court.

The falsified evidence was then used to reduce legitimate claims for damages for car hire charges brought by innocent victims of road traffic collisions. Autofocus went into administration in July 2010.

Mr Justice Supperstone acknowledged the closing submissions of Mr John Rees QC, on behalf of Accident Exchange, that “the main perpetrators of this very serious perversion of the course of justice were Colin McLean, Suzy Forrest, Elaine Walker and Paul Wilcox, Chairman, Managing Director, and directors of Autofocus respectively, together with Stuart McLean, training officer and brother of Colin McLean, although the team leaders and rates surveyors were willing participants therein.”

He added that “the dishonest actions of Autofocus and the Defendants had serious implications not only for the value of the shares of Accident Exchange owned both by individuals and institutional investors which led to the loss of very substantial sums, but also for 300 employees of Accident Exchange who were made redundant.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Supperstone also referred to an earlier judgement of the Divisional Court that “if these allegations were made out, as My Lord Moses LJ has said, this would be perjury on an industrial scale.” 

Commenting on the judgement, Steve Evans, on behalf of Accident Exchange said, “This is a very important judgement. The justice system relies on evidence being truthful and honest to deliver sound and equitable judgements. Autofocus, and those instructing them, were seduced by the commercial and reputational success that their manufactured and dishonest evidence generated.  Elements of the story are still unfolding and Commercial Court proceedings continue.”