Drayton Manor Park

Case Study: Walkden v Drayton Manor Park Forensic Case

Background

Former managing director, Richard Walkden, brought a claim in excess of £1.5m against Drayton Manor theme park, alleging that the injuries he received during an accident at the park in 2014 had subsequently resulted in the demise of his business, Eartheat Limited.

Eartheat supplied and fitted ground source heat pumps – a business that in Mr Walkden’s view should have flourished as a result of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (‘RHI’) scheme launched just prior to his accident. 

Mr Walkden claimed that he received a severe back injury when the gondola ride his family had boarded was swung too hard, resulting in him later developing chronic pain syndrome and an inability to work normally.

The matter was complicated by the fact that approximately three years after the accident Mr Walkden suffered a heart attack and closed his business, with administrators being appointed.  Whilst there was no medical link between the accident and his heart attack, Mr Walkden alleged that, but for his accident, his business would have grown and become stronger and would have been able to survive the impact of his heart attack.

What did we do?

This case was very complicated as Mr Walkden was trying to link several factors in and around his business, his accident and his heart-attack.

Furthermore, around the time of the administration, Mr Walkden and his wife had destroyed many of the business books and records.

We worked on behalf of QBE and Defendant’s legal team in reviewing the report prepared by the Claimant’s forensic accountant, which calculated various scenarios of how Eartheat would have grown but for the accident.  We had to forensically examine what remained of the Claimant’s business records, assess how it had traded both before and after the accident and understand and analyse the Government figures relating to the uptake of domestic RHI from 2014. 

How we did it?

We worked collaboratively with the legal team defending the case.

  • We took time to professionally understand the complexities of the case
  • We reviewed the business’ performance and were able to form an opinion on how the business had traded, especially in the immediate aftermath of the accident
  • We researched the RHI Scheme and looked at national and regional trends and compared this to Eartheat’s own trading performance.

Results

‘Matthew was a critical part of the Defence team and his comprehensive report, which followed detailed research into the Renewable Heating Initiative and forensic analysis of the available business accounts, lent considerable weight to the argument that the Claimant and his business had in fact suffered no loss whatsoever as a result of the accident in respect of which compensation was claimed’

Anthony Bushell, Partner

  • We established that Mr Walkden’s business had its two best years immediately after the accident
  • The increased turnover of the business following the accident was not supported by any increase in wages and hence it must have been performed by the existing workforce including Mr Walkden
  • The RHI scheme did not achieve the popularity or uptake that was expected by those in the industry and Eartheat’s sales actually tracked and was consistent with those statistics
  • Mr Walkden’s personal account of how the business traded after his accident differed markedly from the evidence obtained from the business books and records
  • There was no evidence to support the contention that Eartheat’s trading performance was affected by Mr Walkden’s accident and hence there was no basis upon which to project any loss of earnings.

The evidence we provided, alongside that submitted by the other experts called upon by Andrew McLaughlin of St John’s Chambers and Anthony Bushell, Partner at Plexus Law, led to the Judge concluding in favour of the Defendant.

The Judge found that Mr Walkden was evasive, he misrepresented and exaggerated the effects of the accident, he was untruthful about his past medical history, he failed to disclose documents and he lied about the reasons he had stopped work. The Judge also found Mrs Walkden was not credible, ruling that his claim should be dismissed with him paying the costs of the entire action because he had been fundamentally dishonest.


The deadline for June 2021 claims is 14 July 2021. If you require our JRS team to submit your claims please send them to jrs@armstrongwatson.co.uk by 9 July 2021. For details on the changes to the scheme visit our CJRS page.