Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, is lobbying the justice minister, Liz Truss, today.
Philp is not doing so on behalf of his constituents in Croydon.
He’s taking time out of his busy schedule and using an opportunity to meet a cabinet minister on behalf of … the Association of British Insurers.
Much in the same way that Philp took time last week to speak to a meeting of… the Association of British Insurers.
Why? He says because he’s been pestered with cold calls from firms who want to encourage him to commit a form of fraud by making an insurance claim for whiplash injuries which he may, or may not, have suffered in a recent accident.
The Association of British Insurers want a change in the law because all the small claims they receive from their customers, many after generally minor traffic accidents, have been chipping away at their otherwise humongous profits.
The ABI reckons that insurers are paying out nearly £300 million a year on bodily injury claims.
Inside Croydon has previously reported on Philp’s somewhat opaque personal business affairs, with his raft of development investment companies, some registered abroad, and his refusal to be open about his tax affairs, even though he has an important role scrutinising the tax system on the Treasury Select Committee.
Philp was adamant over the weekend, when challenged by several lawyers via social media, that he had received no fee for his speech for the ABI or from car insurers (albeit that he is paid a salary as a MP to represent his constituents, not to lobby for big business, but hey ho…).
Philp – “I’m a dad and an entrepreneur” is how he describes himself – says that he wants government to “clamp down” on personal injury whiplash fraud.
“I took an interest after I was bombarded by cold calls inciting me to commit fraud after a minor car accident,” Philp said via Twitter.
“They were asking me to pretend to have neck [injuries] to get compensation. This is despicable and must end.”
But although he complained that he had been subjected to numerous cold calls encouraging him to make a claim, he does not seem to have reported any of the legal firms calling him for conspiracy to defraud – an offence for which there are existing legal penalties.
Philp has outraged personal injury claim lawyers. By championing the interests of the insurers and their proposed changes to the law, with an increase in the small claims limit, the lawyers say that what Philp wants will see many people unable to seek legal advice and support to pursue claims for less than £5,000.
Given the many other matters which might be preoccupying parliamentarians’ time at present, lobbying on behalf of the insurance industry does seem an odd use of the Tory MP’s time. Especially as he has not managed to report to the police any of the alleged fraudsters who clearly have been troubling him so much.
Philp told an audience of presumably grateful insurers that he wants to ensure that some reforms will be included in next month’s autumn statement. Which is nice of him.
Charlie Falconer, Tony Blair’s old mucker and a former justice secretary himself, was also at the ABI conference with Philp, and he told the insurers to invest in fraud detection and taking legal action against fraudsters, rather than pursuing “unfair” changes to the system.
But hey, that might not be in the interests of the insurers as much as a quick and easy legislative fix, disadvantaging a large number of honest people who pay their insurance premiums, and organised for them by lobbying MPs like Croydon South’s all-so-eager “entrepreneur” Chris Philp.
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