A pair of fake sickness fraudsters have been convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and ordered to pay Leeds-based Jet2 almost £30,000 after being filmed dancing by the poolside on holiday in Turkey and being pictured posing with a parrot.
Martin and Lindsey Brown, 38 and 35, from Chorley in Lancashire, submitted a false claim against Jet2 for gastric illness, after staying at the Emre Hotel in Marmaris in 2016.
But they were undone by the wealth of evidence against them with the judge ruling such claims a "scourge".
They made the claim for compensation after stating that they had suffered with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as a result of food poisoning contracted whilst on an all-inclusive 10-night holiday.
Mr Brown even claimed that he had soiled himself in bed, and that his children had soiled themselves at the pool, as a result of their sickness.
They claim this was caused by negligence, and resulted in them being bed-ridden and prescribed medication after a visit to the hotel doctor.
After investigating the claim, Jet2, the Emre Hotel, and law firm Horwich Farrelly were able to reveal a wealth of evidence showing that the claims were both pre-meditated and a complete fabrication.
During the hearing at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, staff and the doctor from Emre Hotel also gave evidence demonstrating that the couple had not been ill.
His Honour Judge Sephton QC convicted the Browns of conspiracy to commit fraud, concluding: “They sought to benefit by their wrong-doing in a thoroughly dishonest fashion.
"Dishonest claims are a scourge which are blighting these courts.”
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2 said: “Martin and Lindsey Brown travelled to Turkey having already worked out how to make a fraudulent sickness claim, but thanks to our robust investigation their deception has been uncovered.
"Jet2 has led the way to tackle the issue of false sickness claims so that holidaymakers do not expose themselves to the risks that come with getting involved in such dishonest activity, and we hope this ruling sends out a serious message to others.
"That message is clear, we will investigate and defend any claims that we believe are dishonest, and the courts do not just take a dim view of such deceit, they are prepared to punish it accordingly.”
Emre Deliveli, Managing Director Emre Hotels said: “I am very satisfied with this result, I’d like to thank Jet2 for working with us on this case.
"We feel that our reputation and high standards have been proved once more and we look forward to receiving more happy UK customers to Emre Hotel and Emre Beach Hotel where they know they will have an excellent holiday.”
In some quarters Britain was referred to as the ‘fake sick man of Europe’ after unscrupulous businesses and touts were able to exploit a legal loophole and encourage a huge rise in fake sickness claims over recent years.
This led to a 500% increase in gastric sickness* claims made by British holidaymakers between 2013 and 2016, prompting some hoteliers to warn that they would withdraw holidays from the UK market.
In April this year, the Ministry of Justice announced the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs to cover holiday sickness claims brought under the Package Travel Regulations, making defence costs predictable and thus deterring bogus claims.
The Government also followed this up by clamping down on the practice of cold calling without consent, and further proposals are being put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority when they take over regulation of Claims Management Companies (CMCs) from April 2019 to ensure there is an end to misleading practices and dishonest activity.
This is the latest court success that Jet2 has seen in the fight against fake sickness claims.
In October, four fraudsters were sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, after admitting to concocting a fake claim. Michael Jameson (43), Claire Weir (35) Jane Weir (38) Janet Weir (63), all from Liverpool, were convicted of contempt of court at Liverpool High Court after inventing and submitting a false claim against Jet2holidays.
In June, Liam Royle from Eccles in Manchester was found fundamentally dishonest and ordered to pay Jet2 more than £6,000, after his ex-girlfriend presented evidence, including video footage of him dancing to Gangnam Style by the swimming pool, to prove that his compensation claim for gastric illness was fraudulent.