Jail for fraudster who was both accident victim and lawyer

Crash: Claim was a fraud

A former government lawyer who used multiple identities in order to play the victim of a motor accident and then legally represent the other driver has been jailed for eight months for contempt of court.

Muhammad Bilal, 36, of Hayes, Middlesex, claimed compensation for whiplash-type injuries sustained when he was apparently involved in an accident with Adnan Shah in Hayes in 2014.

Mr Shah’s insurer, AIG, refused to pay the claim as they believed the accident was staged.

Mr Bilal’s multiple identities and a “complex web of connections” between the pair were uncovered by AIG’s solicitors, Clyde & Co.

According to the firm, Mr Bilal – who maintained throughout that he did not know Shah – also moonlighted as a paralegal for Lawgate Solicitors in Slough whilst working for the Government Legal Department; his LinkedIn profile says he is a legal executive officer, and previously studied the Bar Vocational Course. But the firm said his actual qualifications were unclear.

It was through Lawgate that he sought to legally represent Mr Shah in a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service about the insurer’s refusal to pay his claim.

In 2016, the ombudsman found in favour of Mr Shah and asked AIG to pay for damage to his vehicle plus an additional £1,250.

In support of his claim that Mr Shah had instructed Lawgate by chance, Mr Bilal produced a witness statement purportedly from the firm’s principal, but he failed to attend court to give evidence.

During lengthy email exchanges with Clyde & Co, Mr Bilal repeatedly denied using the name Bilal Toor and representing Mr Shah until he was presented with a copy of his own business card that he had posted on social media.

During cross-examination, Mr Bilal admitted he had lied to Clyde & Co, but continued to insist that the claim was genuine and that he did not know Mr Shah before the accident.

After acting for Mr Shah, Mr Bilal then launched his own personal injury claim in May 2016, but it was struck out at Uxbridge County Court in November 2017 after he failed to pay the hearing fee. Clyde & Co said this was because it provided evidence of the link between the two.

In his ruling earlier this month on the application to commit Mr Bilal for contempt, His Honour Judge Gargan found that the accident was staged and that Mr Bilal had lied in a number of documents when he asserted that he did not know Mr Shah.

The judge did not accept that the Lawgate connection was coincidental, finding it incredible that Mr Bilal just happened to work not only on Mr Shah’s case but the very accident in which he himself had been involved.

Clyde & Co partner Damian Rourke said: “This is an unusual case as Muhammad Bilal continued to protest his innocence and contested a final hearing at the High Court. Bilal put up an aggressive defence and so we are delighted that the judge agreed with us and found the claim to be a fraud.

“Bilal worked in the legal system and clearly believed he was clever enough to dupe it. Evidently, he’s not as smart as he thought.”

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