Mother who sued NHS for £7.3m after pretending her daughter needed wheelchair due to medical blunders avoids jail for contempt of court after her lies were exposed by social media posts showing her singing, dancing and acting in show
- Natasha Colley claimed daughter Megan was left severely disabled by blunders
- Hull NHS Trust admitted breach of duty and valued her claim at £65,000
- But the mother demanded £7.3m, claiming Megan was left reliant on wheelchair
- Evidence of 21-year-old singing and dancing however led to Mrs Colley being found guilty of contempt of court
- She avoided going to prison and was given a six-month suspended sentence
A mother-of-three who sued the NHS for £7.3m after pretending her daughter needed a wheelchair to get around because of medical blunders has avoided a jail term.
Natasha Colley’s lies were exposed by social media posts showing her supposedly badly disabled daughter, Megan, 21, singing, dancing and playing the lead in a Jack and the Beanstalk stage show.
Mrs Colley launched a lawsuit in 2016, claiming that her daughter Megan Colley – who was born with displaced hips – had been left severely disabled because doctors failed to correct the issue during operations when she was younger.
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted breach of duty in the way the operations were performed on Megan, valuing the claim at around £65,000.
But Mrs Colley, 38, acting as her daughter’s litigation friend, demanded a massive £7.3m, claiming the mistakes meant Megan had been left ‘significantly reliant upon a wheelchair out of doors with consequential dependence, such as people having to push her’.
However, investigations showed that Megan had taken up a performing arts degree course, and had made social media posts showing her on her feet, singing, dancing and performing onstage without apparent difficulty.
Natasha Colley (pictured) has avoided going to prison and was given a six-month suspended sentence demanded a massive £7.3m, claiming errors meant Megan was left ‘significantly reliant upon a wheelchair out of doors with consequential dependence, such as people having to push her’
She was hailed as a ‘strong dancer’ and a ‘star pupil’ by tutors on her course, who, lawyers for the NHS said, had expressed ‘astonishment’ to learn that she was said to be badly disabled.
The compensation claim never reached trial as Megan withdrew her support for it days before it was due to hit court.
Today at London’s High Court, Mr Justice Bourne found Mrs Colley guilty of contempt of court for lies making out her daughter needed to use a wheelchair whenever she was out of the house and handed her a suspended six-month jail term, suspended for two years.
Megan was not herself accused of contempt.
The court heard that Megan was born in July 2000, suffering from hip dysplasia.
Megan Colley – who was born with displaced hips – had been left severely disabled because doctors failed to correct the issue during operations when she was younger, her mother claimed
Megan was hailed as a ‘strong dancer’ and a ‘star pupil’ by tutors on her course, who, lawyers for the NHS said, had expressed ‘astonishment’ to learn that she was said to be badly disabled
The NHS admitted blame but claimed that £65,500 would compensate Megan for two unnecessary operations she would have to undergo, plus the fact that she may face having to have hip replacements earlier in life than her condition would otherwise have necessitated.
However Natasha insisted that, due to the blunders, Megan had needed a wheelchair for much of the time when she was at school and later when she was at college completing a performing arts degree.
She claimed that her daughter was so seriously disabled she deserved £7.3m compensation, later revised to £5.5m after surveillance evidence was disclosed.
Caroline Harrison QC, for the NHS Trust, told the judge they had gathered statements from Hull College tutors who taught her during her performing arts degree, and ‘described her energetic stage work, including dancing,’ she said.
‘Her tutors do not support any special arrangements being made or required by her.
‘The tutors do not recognise the portrait of her disability that is painted by her mum.’
The court was shown surveillance video of Megan performing in stage productions of shows including Oliver, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Beauty and the Beast.
However, investigations showed that Megan (centre right) had taken up a performing arts degree course, and had made social media posts showing her on her feet, singing, dancing and performing onstage without apparent difficulty
Megan had also posted online videos on her social media showing her standing and singing, and statements that she wanted to ‘build a career in performing and modelling… I can sing, dance and act and love to also entertain’.
When she did bring a wheelchair to college it was for a short time, which the barrister claimed ‘supports the suggestion that it was a prop rather than being genuinely needed’.
Natasha Colley however maintained it was true that her daughter used a wheelchair at Hull College and that she had a dedicated teaching assistant to push her around.
Mr Justice Bourne found Mrs Colley guilty of contempt for having lied about that in her witness statement as well as claiming that Megan needed to use a wheelchair whilst outside the house.
‘When all the evidence in the clinical negligence claim is considered, it becomes clear that Megan and Mrs Colley exaggerated the effects of her condition.
‘There was evidence of Megan playing leading roles, dancing acting and singing, contradicting the evidence that was put forward that she was severely disabled.
‘I am sure that Mrs Colley made false statements and knowingly did so.
‘Mrs Colley knowingly made these statements with the intent if increasing the value of Megan’s clinical negligence claim.
‘People who make false claims to the court should expect to go to prison,’ he added, saying that whilst Megan’s claim could potentially have been worth up to £5m had vital assessments by medical experts gone her way, her mother’s proven lies had exaggerated its maximum value by at least a six-figure sum.
But he went on to suspend the sentence after hearing that Mrs Colley had caring responsibilities as a mother of three and had experienced a tough childhood.
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