South West Wales

Contempt case holidaymaker jailed after Facebook photos

A man who drove to Italy with his wife despite claiming he was disabled has been jailed for nine months.

Graham Loveday, who put pictures of the caravan holiday on Facebook, was prosecuted at the High Court by insurer Acromas, formerly known as Saga.

In a test case judges agreed Loveday, of Port Talbot, who denied contempt of court, made false statements in a damages claim after a 2006 road crash.

Susan Loveday, 52, was given a suspended jail term.

She had admitted partial liability in the case brought following a change in the law in July last year that enabled insurance companies to bring legal action.

Insurance firms claim that fraud is now endemic and legal action is needed as a deterrent.

Acromas began the action over an insurance claim made by Loveday, a former lorry driver, following an accident in April 2006 involving an elderly motorist, Edward Nield, who the firm insured.

The judges, Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Keith, heard Loveday sued for a six-figure sum for psychiatric and back injuries as well as lost earnings, claiming he had been left unable to drive and was dependent on a wheelchair when going any distance from home.

Mr Loveday also said he was phobic about travel and could no longer indulge his hobbies of vehicle maintenance and caravanning, the court heard.

The court heard that when Acromas was given permission on October last year to start the legal action, it did not know the couple had been holidaying in Italy from May to July 2009, just weeks before Mr Loveday signed a document claiming he had a "crippling" fear of travelling.

The couple had been the subject of a parallel investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions, the court was told, which discovered the photos.

Sentencing the couple, Sir Anthony May said that their offence was a "public wrong, not just a private matter between you and an insurance company".

He said: "We have to have well in mind that telling deliberate lies in court proceedings undermines the fabric of justice which itself is part of the fabric of society."

He said that the case against Mr Loveday had been "surely proved by overwhelming evidence".

Susan Loveday was given a six months suspended sentence conditional on her not committing any further contempt for 18 months.

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