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Soldier Suing MOD For £3.7M Is Accused Of Faking Trench Foot By Putting Feet In Ice

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Soldier Suing MOD For £3.7M Is Accused Of Faking Trench Foot By Putting Feet In Ice

A former soldier who is suing the Ministry of Defence for a record £3.7 million ($5.09m) over trench foot is facing claims that he 'entirely' faked the condition.

Brian Muyepa has been accused of packing his feet in ice blocks before doctors were able to examine him.

The 32-year-old argues that the condition came on from being left in wet boots for over five hours after a training exercise in a water-filled Welsh tunnel during the winter of 2016.

The former Royal Artillery gunner is facing accusations of fraud over an alleged scam involving 'putting ice packs around his feet to fool the diagnostic tests' when being checked out by military medics.

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Ministry of Defence (MoD) lawyers earlier this year admitted it breached its duty of care towards Mr Muyepa, but later went on to accuse him of 'exaggerating' his claim after video footage of him dancing at a barbecue surfaced on social media.

MoD barrister Andrew Ward told Judge John Kimbell QC at the High Court that a new witness has come forward to testify that Mr Muyepa discussed 'packing ice blocks around his feet to fool the diagnostic infrared thermography tests' before he was examined at the Institute of Naval Medicine, in Gosport, Hants.

In his £3.7m compensation claim, Mr Muyepa says non-freezing cold injuries - known during the First World War as trench foot - have left him with crippling pain in his hands and feet.

He says his injury occurred when he went on a promotion exercise in Sennybridge, Wales, in March 2016.

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During the exercise, he spent time in a cold water-filled tunnel, but then had to continue for another five and a half hours afterwards in wet boots.

Mr Muyepa. Credit: Champion News
Mr Muyepa. Credit: Champion News

After being diagnosed with a non-freezing cold injury, it was recommended that Mr Muyepa be protected from cold in future, his barrister Laura Collignon told the court.

But he was exposed again at Salisbury Plain in early 2017, when he spent much of his time working outdoors on vehicles.

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Ms Collignon explained that his condition subsequently worsened and he was diagnosed as having 'very severe' cold sensitivity in his feet.

He was eventually medically discharged in January 2018 and started his compensation claim later that year.

In his claim, he says he can only walk around 100m with a walking stick and can only stand for 10 minutes to make a drink or snack.

The claim includes over £800,000 ($1.1m) for the loss of his Army career and £1.7m ($2.3m) to pay for the cost of carers for the rest of his life.

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If awarded, it would be the highest ever reported payout by the MOD for a non-freezing cold injury.

Credit: CAMimage/Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: CAMimage/Alamy Stock Photo

But the MoD say alarm bells began to ring when video footage of him allegedly dancing emerged, which they believed showed him being 'much more mobile' than he had made out and leading to accusations that he had 'over egged and exaggerated the claim'.

The August 2018 barbecue footage, in which Mr Muyepa can be seen dancing and holding a plate, had been posted by his wife on her Facebook page.

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Another Facebook post showed Mr Muyepa performing as a DJ at a party in a sports hall.

Now Mr Ward told the court that the MoD believe his whole case is a fake, telling the judge: "Our case is that the claim is entirely fraudulent, that the claimant discussed with someone else packing ice blocks around his feet to fool the infrared thermography tests at the Institute of Naval Medicine.

"If a claimant is fraudulently attempting to engineer his own injury that is not within the duty of care owed by an employer to an employee."

The medical experts set to give evidence at the trial of the claim will also now be asked to investigate whether the alleged trick with the ice blocks could in fact have been used to 'fool the machine' when Mr Muyepa underwent his infrared thermography tests.

Mr Muyepa denies all the allegations of dishonesty and exaggeration put forward by the MoD and is pressing on with his claim.

A ten-day trial of the case is set to go ahead later this year.

Featured Image Credit: Champion News

Topics: UK News, News, UK

Rebecca Shepherd
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