Seven expert witnesses who made up evidence about the cost of replacement hire cars for motorists in car crashes have been imprisoned for up to thirteen months.
The seven experts were employed by Autofocus Ltd and became involved in "perjury on an industrial scale", said the judge in what is believed to be the first case of its kind
A high court judge in London said they had been involved in "a very serious perversion of the course of justice"
In thousands of cases, the now out of business Autofocus provided insurance companies with expert rate surveyors who challenged the daily rate the hire car specialists, Accident Exchange Ltd could claim for providing replacement vehicles.
The experts who were found guilty are estimated to have saved insurance companies millions of pounds and were found guilty of contempt for untruthfully stating that they had checked the spot rates for comparable vehicles within the same geographical area and that the Accident Exchange charges were excessive and exaggerated.
In six cases, the experts perjured themselves when they gave evidence on oath when disputes went to court, said the judge.
The company, Accident Exchange that brought a private prosecution for contempt, estimated that 30,000 cases were affected by the defendants signing false statements of truth after making rates reports.
The upshot of the dishonest actions of Autofocus and the defendants hit the share price of Accident Exchange and led to 300 employees being made redundant and a loss of 100 million GBP.
The Autofocus expert and team leader Nathan George Broom, from East Anglia, was jailed for 10 months; the company director Elaine Carlton Walker, from Gloucester, received 13 months and one week; and the team leader Duncan Carl Sadler, from Oxford, was jailed for 12 months.
Four other defendants, referred to as "footsoldiers," received lesser penalties â€“ Andrew Watts, from Wirral, Liverpool, was jailed for seven months; David James, from Wirral, for eight months; Laurence Gray, from Oxford, for six months and three weeks; and Keel Broom, from Beccles, Suffolk, for six months.
Although guilty of contempt in making false statements, Broom never perjured himself by lying in court.
The judge referred to submissions by John Rees QC, appearing for Accident Exchange, that â€“ with the exception of Walker, the company director â€“ none of those before the court were "the main perpetrators of this very serious perversion of the course of justice."
They allegedly were the Autofocus chairman Colin McLean, managing director Suzy Forrest and director Paul Wilcox. They also included Stuart McLean, training officer and brother of Colin McLean.
The judge said the Autofocus bosses were involved in proceedings in the commercial court, along with three firms of solicitors, and facing claims by Accident Exchange for some 126m GBP for causing it financial losses between 2005 and 2010.
But the seven facing jail were "willing participants" in the fabrication of reports.