Walkden v Drayton Manor Park Ltd [2021] EWHC 2056 (QB)

23 July 2021

Andrew McLaughlin has succeeded in a 2-day High Court appeal against Satinder Hunjan QC before Mrs Justice Tipples DBE, who upheld a finding below by HHJ Murdoch that a claim for in excess of £1.5m should be dismissed on the grounds of fundamental dishonesty.

Richard Walkden, a former company director, was injured in an accident on a gondola ride in April 2014. He alleged he had suffered a severely disabling chronic pain syndrome which had caused the loss of his business and a need for daily care and assistance from his wife. HHJ Murdoch held he was not a credible witness, who groped for explanations when confronted with inconsistencies in cross-examination. He concluded that Mr Walkden had exaggerated his claim and misrepresented his disabilities to the medical experts. The Claimant appealed to the High Court on 8 separate grounds relating to the Judge’s findings of fact and the expert evidence.

The appeal also alleged the Judge had not referred to fundamental dishonesty in the main judgment and therefore the claim should not have been dismissed. Mrs Justice Tipples DBE heard submissions from the parties over 2 days on 13 and 14 July 2021 and handed down judgment on 23 July 2021. She held that several of the grounds of appeal were hopeless or based on a mis-reading of the judgment. She held that the reason the main judgment did not mention fundamental dishonesty was because Mr Hunjan QC had asked for a paragraph in the draft version to be deleted so that he could then address the Judge on the issue and the Judge had been right to accede to that request. She held there was ample evidence to support the Judge’s conclusion that Mr Walkden had been dishonest.

The appeal was dismissed with costs in the defendant’s favour on the indemnity basis. An additional interim payment on account of costs was awarded in the sum of £100,000 taking the total interim costs award which must now be paid to £200,000. The full bill will go off for detailed assessment and is likely to be in the region of £500,000 or more.

Media coverage:

BBC | Drayton Manor: Cable car crash victim’s £1.5m claim thrown out

The Sun | Moment dad ‘crippled’ in Drayton Manor Park ride crash is caught white water rafting after suing for £1.5m

The Independent | Man who sued Drayton Manor Park for £1.5m after back injury pictured white water rafting

The Mirror Online | Dad who sued Drayton Manor Park for £1.5m after back injury seen white water rafting 

Daily Mail | Boss who launched £1.5m lawsuit over theme park injury must pay £200,000 after being caught rafting

Leicestershire Live | Dad who sued Drayton Manor Park for £1.5m over ‘serious injury’ pictured white water rafting