Kickboxing star’s mother guilty of fraud after “exaggerating her condition”


Benefit fraud – the very phrase tends to conjure images of inner city poverty, council estates and the long-term unemployed desperately looking to catch a break that never comes. Of course, when you think about it, that’s not really the case at all. Most people in these kinds of circumstances are the genuine claimants for whom the entire system is designed. Fraudsters, as we have found out in recent articles, can be the most improbable people, including royalty and reality TV stars.

Here’s another example of a benefits fraud case that is a little outside the normal, as it all revolves around one of the most promising young athletes in the country – and her mother.

A sporting inspiration

Christianne Fahey is a young woman who has touched a great many lives. Being 13 is not easy for anyone when it comes to social confidence, but for Christianne, it was doubly difficult, as she has suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome all her life. She describes herself as being “hyperactive and a wee tearaway” at the time, but by channelling that energy into martial arts, she found both an outlet and a way to improve her self-confidence.

She subsequently became junior world champion in kickboxing, before, in adulthood, taking up boxing and then changing tack entirely and becoming a rugby player. Over the years, she has been the subject of numerous interviews and plenty of media attention. Unfortunately, that spotlight can also become a curse.

You can’t choose your family

Christianne herself has not been accused of anything, but the trouble with family is that they can tarnish your reputation by association. Last month, her mother, Carol Black, appeared in Kirkaldy Sheriff Court and was charged with failing to disclose an improvement in her daughter’s condition.

It appears that Mrs Black had been claiming disability living allowance on behalf of her daughter, and had received £22,000 to which she was not entitled. She was also accused of “telling lies” in her declaration to the Department of Work and Pensions. She was ultimately tried on a lesser charge and fined £300.

Prone to exaggeration

Unsurprisingly, the press were eager to hear Christianne’s take on what had happened. She told journalists that her mother had a habit of “moving the goalposts” when describing her medical condition. She said: “I used the benefits money to fund my sports for my mental health but I didn’t need the higher rate for that. I don’t think it was appropriate. There are people who actually need the higher rate of benefits and that’s why I think I only needed the lower rate. Some of the examples that she put on the forms are ridiculous.”

Her mother, meanwhile, represented herself in court and said that trying to keep track of her daughter’s ever-changing condition meant that she needed to be “like Colombo” and do detective work every day.

Disability allowance claims are not easy

The problem with health conditions is that they do not always fit neatly into a box, so Mrs Black’s description of the circumstances she found herself in bears some sympathy. If you are concerned that your own disability allowance, or that of a loved one, might be under scrutiny by the DWP, get in touch with us at Hylton Potts and we will be happy to help and advise you. You can give us a ring on 020 7381 8111, or you can email us at law@hylton-potts.com..

In the meantime, we would love to hear your opinions on the above case. Was Carol Black simply trying to look out for her daughter’s best interests, or is she a fraudster who got off lightly? As ever, please leave your comments in the section below.