A SENIOR NUM official says he is ‘appalled’ at comments made in court on behalf of Raleys solicitors that a ‘huge proportion’ of miners compensated for vibration white finger probably didn’t have the condition. Chris Skidmore, NUM area chairman, said the union would be calling for a meeting with Raleys ‘as soon as possible’ for the firm, which represents the union, to explain the remarks.
They were highlighted by another firm of solicitors, Mellor Hargreaves, which represented a former miner who won a vibration white finger negligence claim against Raleys over the handling of his compensation claim. Raleys took the decision to London’s Court of Appeal, but lost when judges ruled in favour of the miner, Ronald Barnaby, of Knottingley.
The case was about Mr Barnaby’s claim for additional compensation on top of what was previously awarded, to pay for assistance required with tasks around the house. He abandoned the claim following advice from Raleys.
Raleys put to Mr Barnaby that he was pursuing a fraudulent claim. The firm cited comments from a 2010 case where Catherine Foster, counsel for Raleys, said in court: “…what you have to appreciate is that of 180,000 claims that have been settled under this scheme, probably a huge proportion of these men have not actually got this condition.”
Mr Skidmore said: “I’m absolutely appalled. That is casting aspersions on miners, our members and ex-members, not to mention the integrity of this union. “I will be speaking to my fellow union officials to see what we want to do about it. “This is the first time this has been raised with me. I have, until now, always had a very good working relationship with Raleys.”
Raleys refused to comment, but issued a statement about the most recent appeal court judgement. Carol Gill, managing partner, said: “This was the first of six similar claims against Raleys that have gone to court in recent months. Three failed and three succeeded. “Of the two others that succeeded, we await an appeal date concerning the second, and have applied for an appeal concerning the third. In the three claims that were denied by the court, costs were awarded against the claimants.”