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IT boss loses compensation claim

Bill Goodwin
A City IT manager who claimed his life was ruined after high street bank Abbey mistakenly issued an alert to a monitoring service used by hundreds of UK financial companies branding him and his wife fraudsters has had his claim for compensation thrown out of court.

A High Court judge refused Michael Johnson, former IT manager at Perot Systems, the right to appeal last week, after ruling that he failed to comply with an order to pay Abbey £30,000 in costs. He also voiced doubts about the strength of Johnson's claim for damages.

Johnson claimed he was treated unfairly and said he was considering an appeal to the House of Lords. "I did not have a fair trial," he said

The case had raised serious concerns at Cifas, the fraud prevention service supported by the finance industry, which feared it could cause "irreparable" damage to the industry's anti-fraud data sharing arrangements, it emerged during the hearing.

Cifas put pressure on Abbey to settle the case to prevent information about Cifas' anti-fraud measures becoming public, documents disclosed in the hearing revealed.

In a letter to the bank in April last year, Cifas chief executive Peter Hurst said the organisation would have to admit that Abbey had been wrong to issue the fraud warning about Johnson if summoned to court.

"Cifas rules entering the public domain would cause irreparable damage to the operation of the industry fraud data sharing arrangements," he said.

Abbey dismissed Hurst's fears, claiming his conclusions were based on partial information and that expert witnesses, rather than Cifas, would testify.

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