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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 15:57 GMT
Lawyers accused over coal claims
Michael Clapham MP
Labour MP Michael Clapham used to be a miner
A South Yorkshire MP and former miner has launched an attack in the Commons on solicitors who charge former miners for handling their compensation claims.

Labour MP Michael Clapham said some firms were charging claimants despite having been paid by the government.

Mr Clapham, the member for Barnsley West and Penistone, said some men had been treated disgracefully.

Trade and Industry Minster Nigel Griffiths admitted some abuses of the compensation scheme had occurred.

Double charging

The minister said he had written to lawyers handling claims, to stress that all compensation money should go to miners and their families as solicitors had already been generously paid.

He asked them to repay claimants where there had been double charging.

Earlier, Mr Clapham explained how the government had invited claims for compensation for illnesses contracted while working in coal mines.

Although the government had promised that it would pay the legal fees, some law firms were charging a "success fee".

He told Mr Griffiths: "I think it is a disgrace that these companies are able to prey on miners and their families."

Mr Griffiths told MPs that 371,000 claims had been made and 1.7bn had been paid out so far.

Payouts to individual miners range from 350 to 350,000 and average 770.


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