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Don't swindle our miners says MP

"THE great miners' swindle" – that's what Bassetlaw MP John Mann has branded the controversy surrounding "greedy" solicitors charging former miners for Government compensation.

"THE great miners' swindle" – that's what Bassetlaw MP John Mann has branded the controversy surrounding "greedy" solicitors charging former miners for Government compensation.

Ex-miners suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and vibration white finger should, according to the MP, "never have to pay or have paid a penny of their compensation to solicitors."

This is because the Government paid solicitors a set fee to help claim the compensation that some miners are entitled to.

But Mr Mann claims some solicitors have done some miners out of part of their money by charging a fee on top of that they get from the Government.

Now he says the new industry minister, Nigel Griffiths, has demanded all solicitors repay money double-charged immediately."

Mr Mann's explosive comments have prompted some strong words from solicitors and ex miners alike.

Keith Barlow from Worksop based Tracey Barlow Furniss and Co solicitors is one of the good guys: "I agree with John Mann's comments – my own practice has dealt with compensation claims of all descriptions for many years now on the basis of no charge to the client out of their damages."

"When considered appropriate, we have assisted with funding, way before 'no win no fee' was thought up."

Ex-miner Bill Dawes has also joined in the debate: "I got 1,200 for deafness but am still waiting for the payment to be fully settled for my vibration white finger."

Mr Dawes, who worked at Manton pit, added: "I think I will have to pay them something when it is all sorted – but I shall query it and will be disgusted if I do get charged."

The 68-year-old worked at Manton before it closed in February 1994, for 34 years.

He added: "I don't want to get ripped off by the solicitors."

And Alan Wilson, another retired miner is also fearful of being a victim of the 'swindle.'

"I am claiming for me and my dad (another former miner) and it looks as though we will be charged – it's only 200 but it should be ours'."

He added: "It should all be settled later this year – if we are charged then it's not very good – and I'm not pleased about it, but perhaps they won't ask for the money?"

But when approached by the Guardian, Graysons Solicitors, who have offices in Sheffield and Chesterfield, and deal with many ex-miners claims, including that of Mr Dawes, denied charging extra.

"It is our policy not to charge ex-miners – the Government has set a pre-determined fee, which they pay, and we have accepted that, and we only get it if we win," said Belinda Lancaster, who is a partner at the firm and runs the industrial disease section.

She added: "The only exception is if it is a private claim and not one which goes through the coal board, but providing they do go through them, then we don't ever charge."

Mr Mann has urged miners who have seen large chunks of their compensation taken off them to get in touch with him.

You can either e-mail him on or write to him at 68a, Carlton Road, Worksop.

 
 
 

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