Richard Walkden during his post-accident white water rafting trip (Image: Champion News)
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A dad who tried to sue for £1.5million after he lied about being ‘crippled’ in a theme park ride accident has been caught white water rafting on holiday.
Richard Walkden, 62, attempted to claim damages from Drayton Manor after a cable car accident left him “unable to bend his back” in 2014.
Unfortunately for this “dishonest” dad, an eagle-eyed judge threw out his damages claim against the Staffordshire attraction after spotting pictures of him on a South African rafting expedition on social media.
In the pictures, Walkden could be seen on a raft with members of his family, about to set off down the rapids of the Crocodile River, near Pretoria, while fully decked out with a buoyancy aid and helmet.
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The energy company boss is now facing a £200,000 legal bill after High Court judge Mrs Justice Tipples overturned the original ruling that had gone in his favour.
Richard Walken (right) was attempted to sue Drayton Manor Park for £1.5m
(Image: Champion News)
In the accident in Easter 2014, an operator set off a cable car containing the Leicestershire dad and his family too quickly, and Walkden injured his back while he stood in an awkward position, trying to protect his young sons.
But having seen the pictures of Walken rafting just eight months after the accident, Mrs Justics Tipples said the county court trial judge was entitled to find his claim dishonest and that he had exaggerated his injuries.
Drayton Manor Park Ltd had accepted liability for the accident, but disputed the size of Walken’s 1.5million claim.
Walken had told the court that his injuries had left him with chronic pain and had put an end to his career and beekeeping hobby, but during the hearing Justice Murdoch saw through his lies, dismissing his claim.
He said: “I do not accept that he did not do the entire trip, he is kitted up to do it, his children are in the picture and yet none of them in their evidence says that he did not do the entire trip," he said.
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"If I were wrong with that analysis I would find that in any event he was still required to paddle even on flat water and that would have been a hard, physical activity.
"The raft would need to be ported in and out of the water which again would be hard physical activity.
"His evidence was not in my judgment credible or reliable on this issue.”
Even though the judge found that Walkden should have been entitled to £17,600 compensation – just over one per cent of his original claim – he decided not to grant him a penny due to his “fundamentally dishonest behaviour.”
This means Walkden will have to pick up the bill for Drayton Manor’s legal costs – £200,000 up front, pending full assessment on the final balance, which could run up to “several hundred thousand pounds” according to lawyers.
Anthony Bushell, of Plexus Law, the firm that took the case against Walkden, said: "A forensic investigation of the case and detailed analysis of the medical records, combined with social media profiling, covert surveillance and instruction of highly experienced medical experts meant we were able to evidence to the court that the claimant was bringing a hugely exaggerated and fundamentally dishonest claim.
"This resulted in the claimant receiving nothing other than an order to pay the costs of the entire action."