Claimant cleared of dishonesty despite 'wholly unreliable' evidence

John Hyde of the Law Society Gazette reports that "a High Court judge has rejected that a claimant suing a hospital was fundamentally dishonest – despite rejecting her evidence – because she believed she was telling the truth.

His Honour Judge Platts said he did not accept the evidence of Aileen Brint in Brint v Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust but this did not necessarily mean she had made up events or exaggerated her condition.

The fundamental dishonesty allegation had been made by the defendant on the eve of the 10-day trial last November, on the basis of the claimant’s pleaded case. The judge ruled that the claim failed on the issue of liability, but said he still wanted to address the issue of fundamental dishonesty because it was such an important and serious allegation.

He noted that the totality of her evidence, including cross examination lasting a day and a half, exposed its overall unreliability but not dishonesty.

The judge said: ‘I am satisfied that the claimant genuinely believed in the truth of the evidence that she gave and that, applying the standards of ordinary decent people I find as a fact that although her evidence was wholly unreliable in the sense that I do not accept it, she has not been dishonest.’

The claim arose from an extravasation injury following a CT scan carried out in December 2013 at the King George Hospital in Ilford. She alleged that as a result of negligence she developed complex regional pain syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression causing her significant disability. The NHS trust attacked her reliability and credibility on almost every issue.

The judge said Brint’s evidence was on the whole ‘unconvincing and unreliable’ and her suggestion she was fit, healthy and active before 2013 was inconsistent with her extensive medical history. She failed to prove any breach of duty by the defendant and the claim failed on the issue of liability.

Addressing fundamental dishonesty, the judge said Brint’s evidence had to be viewed against the background of her psychological profile. He suggested that the lateness of the allegation suggested it was not previously considered appropriate, and he said it was telling that the defendant could only cite Brint’s ‘failure to give a satisfactory account’.

The judge added: ‘Failing to give a satisfactory account is very different from giving a false account.’"

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