Man who sued councils over falls charged with fraud

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The Independent Online

One of Britain's most apparently accident prone men who sued a string of councils over pavement falls has been accused of fraud.

Nathan Williams claimed to have been left with a broken hip and ankle as well as injuries to his face, knee, foot and groin.

The roving 38-year-old attempted to sue eight councils over a litany of trips and falls across London over a period of 17 months.

Williams, who lives in a £500,000 flat in trendy Soho, could have been in line for hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.

But officials smelled a rat and after an inquiry involving several local authorities and police he was charged with fraud.

A spokeswoman for City of Westminster magistrates' court confirmed Williams faced eight fraud charges and would next appear on September 1.

The first bid for compensation was made after Williams claimed he tripped on a broken footpath in Boleyn Road, Hackney, in November 2007.

Nine months later he told Hackney Council officials he was left with an injured hand and foot because of their negligence.

The second compensation claim was made after Williams alleged he tripped and hurt his knee in Muswell Hill Road, Haringey, in February 2008.

The third was made after Williams claimed he tripped, fracturing his hip and bruising a testicle, in Ormanton Road, Lewisham, on May 11, 2008.

The fourth attempt to claim a payout was made after Williams said he tripped over broken paving stones near his Dean Street home and broke an ankle one week later.

The fifth compensation claim was made in similar circumstances, in which Williams alleged he hurt his hip again, in Taybridge Road, Wandsworth, in June 2008.

The sixth bid was made when he claimed to have tripped and hurt his face in Whitechapel Road, Tower Hamlets, on June 22, 2008.

The next day, his seventh claim, Williams told Southwark Council he injured his face again when he tripped and fell in London Road, Elephant and Castle.

The final apparent accident took place when Williams said he tripped on "raised ironwork" in Woolwich Road, Greenwich, on June 28, 2008.

Councils across Britain pay out millions of pounds in personal injury compensation to people involved in accidents on their property.

Many employ specialist teams of investigators to check claims and to quickly repair faulty pavements and roads.

Compensation payments range from small amounts for cyclists who fall off after hitting potholes to six-figure sums for those badly hurt tripping on dodgy paving.

Ed Argar, of Westminster City Council, said officials must balance being fair to genuine claimants while protecting taxpayers from cheats.

He said: "We take all claims seriously and do our best to investigate them to ensure any claims made against the council are genuine and made in good faith.

"We are determined to be fair to genuine claimants, but to protect our taxpayers from false claims."

A Local Government Association spokeswoman said many claims were fuelled by "no win, no fee" lawyers who took on many cases.

She said: "Since no-win-no-fee was introduced, almost all councils have seen an increase in compensation claims.

"Of course, where people have a legitimate claim they're entitled to compensation, but there's a real fear that no-win-no-fee lawyers are clogging up the system with spurious claims from people just chancing their arm."

The court spokeswoman added that Williams, of Townsend House, Dean Street, had been remanded in custody.