News story

Footballer found guilty of contempt of court

A semi-professional footballer who was caught tweeting about playing football 24 hours after making a dishonest insurance claim for whiplash today admitted contempt of court.

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Gary Burnett, 24, made the claim following an accident at a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in October 2013. He claimed he had suffered injuries to his neck and back which left him unable to play for his team, Cheshire-based Northwich Victoria, for around four weeks.

One tweet referring to an away match read, “Nice little trek to Kendal later for footy”, was posted just a day after the incident. He also boasted about playing in and scoring in the FA Trophy less than three weeks after the accident.

At a court hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today, Burnett admitted being in contempt of court and was committed to prison for 4 months, suspended for 12 months.

He had already been ordered to pay costs of more than £11,000 by Wigan County Court to insurer Aviva after it was ruled his claim was fundamentally dishonest in July 2015.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP instigated contempt proceedings last year, and speaking after today’s hearing he said:

“This is a serious case, highlighted by blatant dishonesty and a clear contempt by the offender. Burnett knowingly lied in order to benefit himself and the public interest demanded that proceedings be taken forward.

“Burnett is now deservedly paying the penalty for his actions and I hope this sends a message to anyone tempted to try and do the same thing.”

Published 15 April 2016