Two businessmen brothers and their company are headed for a High Court showdown with the Mail on Sunday after demanding libel damages of more than £300,000.
They are suing over a story in Financial Mail on Sunday, written by Andrew Foxwell, headed ‘How the car crash gangs net millions”.
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Bradford entrepreneurs Mohammed Shokat and Mohammed Sageer, and their company Premier Accident Management UK (Yorkshire) are suing publishers Associated Newspapers, managing editor John Wellington and Andrew Foxwell over the March 18 story.
The story set out Financial Mail’s own investigation into the company’s business following a probe the previous year into staged accidents involving insurance frauds, according to a High Court writ.
The two men and their company say the story meant they and their brother Mohammed Shabir Hussain had made repeated suspicious claims, which led to fraud investigations, Hussain had made huge compensation claims for their clients, some of which were being investigated, and the paper’s own investigation revealed how their company extracted the maximum possible cash from insurers, the writ says.
The story also claimed they were members of a crash gang, whose methods of dealing had been uncovered by Financial Mail, that they were conducting a fraudulent and dishonest business involving making bogus claims on staged accidents, and were conspirators and took part in systematic fraud, they claim.
The story was illustrated by pictures of their Bradford offices and by innuendo suggested the company helped bank customers make claims for overcharging, and that this business was also tainted, and likely to involve making dishonest or bogus claims against banks.
They say the story wrongly identified Mohammed Sageer as Mohammed Shabir Hussain, and say their 36 year old brother Mohammed Shabir has no interest in their business and does not for work for it.
A picture of Mr Sageer, with his yellow Hummer vehicle, was captioned Mohammed Shabir Hussain, the writ says.
The pair say their reputations have been seriously damaged, and that they have been exposed to public scandal and contempt, and suffered considerable hurt, distress, and embarrassment. Their company’s business reputation and goodwill has been seriously damaged, they say, and assert it has suffered a general loss of business.
They are also seeking aggravated damages, saying the grave allegations suggested fraudulent behaviour, and a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. No significant attempt to ensure the article was factually accurate took place, they say, and they accuse the paper of acting in callous disregard of the effect of publication.
Now they are seeking damages and aggravated damages for libel, and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the centre of the claim.