Mother who claimed $3.2 million for being in constant pain after botched surgery caught partying at daughter's hen-do in Ibiza
50-year-old Lesley Elder claimed that the operation prevented her from being able to work or travel and that it caused severe and constant pain in her groin and her leg
A mother who had sued the NHS for £2.5million (around$3.2 million) after she claimed that the surgery she had left her unable to do basic work and in constant pain has been caught red-handed partying at a hen-do in Ibiza.
50-year-old Lesley Elder claimed that the operation that was performed on her prevented her from being able to work or travel but she was caught after she posted some photos from her daughter's celebrations on Facebook. The mother-of-two, who is unemployed, said that the pain from the operation had turned her into a reclusive person but a judge has said that the photos showed her "partying after midnight".
Even though she claimed severe disability, Elder was photographed in a club wearing a straw hat and a sash along with other women and her daughter, Tania Bunston, according to the Daily Mail.
The judge also said the mother had a valid case because she had been misdiagnosed before the operation was performed and she did not give her informed consent to it. Elder was, however, only awarded less than 5% of the payout that she asked for because her claim had been "inflated beyond reason".
Elder, who is from Poole, Dorset, is now facing a lawsuit by the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton who want her to be put in jail for contempt of court. William Featherby QC, an NHS barrister, said that Elder's "exaggerated" and "dishonest" claims of grave disability was only opposed by surveillance evidence.
He told Judge Clive Freedman at the High Court in London: "She hoped, by her dishonesty, to recover very substantial damages, perhaps £2.5m. The surveillance evidence and the Facebook photographs demonstrated that she was not significantly disabled and that her statements to that effect were false."
The mother had been entitled to damages after she was put through "unnecessary and inappropriate" incontinence surgery back in 2010 when she lived in the Midlands. She worked as a foster mother in the past but is not unemployed. She was finally given £120,000 in damages.
Elder exaggerated her symptoms, however, and claimed that she was suffering from a "profound disability" also with severe and constant pain on her groin as well as her leg. She also claimed that this meant she could not work or travel and no longer went out much. She said that she needed more than £1million in care and support.
After the hearing took place at Winchester County Court in February 2017, Judge Iain Hughes QC awarded her the small fraction of damages that she claimed. Elder has since said that the trip to Ibiza was not a hen party at all but a holiday to get some sun before her daughter's wedding. Judge Hughes countered by saying the trip had women only and all of them were wearing t-shirts that said "Tania's hen party". He said: "The party had obviously started on Saturday evening. I find that she was happily partying after midnight, contrary to her evidence."
The judge also said that Elder, who used a walking stick to limp into and out of the court, was not spotted in any of the surveillance footage using her walking aid. The footage also showed her using a vacuum cleaner, carrying around her grandson, exercising her dog, and even shopping for clothes with her daughter.
The judge found: "If she would benefit from using a stick, she would use one. She does not save when being observed for the purposes of financial gain."
As for her claim that she could not work, the judge said that medical records have shown that Elder had been fit for work for some years now. The judge continued: "She is not presently working because she perceives it is to her financial advantage in this litigation not to work. Absent the surveillance evidence, a terrible injustice would have been done to the National Health Service."
Featherby, who is applying to have Elder put in jail for contempt of court this week, said that she had made good recovery possibly by 2012 and the latest by 2015. He said: "Rather than reporting this accurately, she set about mounting a claim that was profoundly dishonest and exaggerated the severity of her injuries." He also said that she was lucky she wasn't being charged with a criminal offense which would have been 10 years in jail as opposed to the maximum of two years given for contempt.
Bibi Ihuomah, Elder's lawyer, said that she continues to deny that she was being dishonest in the county court. She told the judge: "She denies that she has lied and she was on severe medication when she gave her evidence." Ihuomah then added that Judge Hughes was only shown about 70 minutes of "edited" surveillance footage that is actually 40 hours long.
The application to send her to prison was adjourned after Ihuomah said that she needed more time to consult with Edler. The case is reported to return to court early in 2019.