A seriously injured British soldier has been left feeling suicidal after the Department for Work and Pensions accused him of faking his injuries, a tribunal has heard.
Adam Douglas, a lance corporal who was nearly killed in a grenade attack in Iraq in 2003, lost a £70-a-month carer’s allowance for his wife after “spurious” and “heavily edited” undercover surveillance was used as evidence against him, a Leeds tribunal was told.
The footage filmed by investigators for Scottish Widows in relation to an insurance claim was passed to police after they accused him of insurance fraud.
However, despite police dropping the investigation, the DWP refused to discard the evidence and stopped the allowance for his wife, Maria, saying he had faked the severity of his injuries.
The tribunal heard that the battle with the DWP has left Douglas doubting his own injuries and leading to a mental breakdown, which has left him unable to work.
Douglas said: “Since I’ve been accused of faking my disabilities I have had a total mental breakdown.
“The very fact that these people decided to call me a fraudster and put me through this for three years has been the worst time of my life, worse than my recovery.”
He added: “It appears that the sole existence of why there is this tribunal is because of this DVD, however, we know the dates and times were wrong.”
The undercover surveillance, which was played to the tribunal, showed Douglas moving house on 9 June 2010 and helping his friends move a fridge-freezer into a van after removal men hired for the job had cancelled.
If the move had not been completed on that date it would have left Douglas with a large legal bill for causing a delay in the sale.
Therefore he helped out and later had to go to hospital as a result, the tribunal heard.
He said: “After helping, I had immense pain in my lower back and pain and paralysis in my leg. I was in hospital the following day in A&E.
“To judge me on what I did in an extreme situation despite all medical opinion supporting my position would be deeply unfair.”
The hearing was told that Douglas can only walk for a few minutes without pain, needs two walking sticks and has started using a wheelchair.
The 45-year-old from Leeds was injured in Iraq in 2003, when he was involved in a firefight with Iraqi republican guards.
He said: “I go back to it every single day and remember how one soldier fired at me and I fired back, killing him and two other soldiers. I play it through my mind and think: ‘if only I’d ducked or run out the way they could still be alive’.
“So from that to be accused of benefit fraud despite all medical evidence being heavily supportive in my favour.”
The tribunal heard that the surveillance company, ASI limited, refused to provide all the recordings made to the decision panel and it was revealed that the time stamps on the recordings had been altered.
However, a representative from the DWP said the time stamps that were changed had no relevance to its decision to strip him of his benefit.
She said: “That doesn’t have any bearing on his claim for disability.”
The tribunal will make its decision on Tuesday.