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The Labour candidate, the unions, and the miners compensation scandal.

November 30, 2010 2:00 PM

As Martin Shipton reports in today's Western Mail,*** Labour's Pontypridd Assembly candidate Mick Antoniw and his fellow Directors at Thompson's solicitors have been "severely reprimanded" by their regulatory body and paid costs amounting to £88,000 for irregularities involving miners' compensation claims.

Yet this really only tells part of the story, and fails to reveal the level of sleaze and old Labour self serving attitudes behind this disgraceful action.

As reported in the Law Gazette (21st October 2010) the Solicitors Regulation Authority found that Mr Antoniw and his partners had failed to act in the best interest of their clients - miners seeking compensation from the Government.

It appears that cases were referred to Thompson's by the Unions. Thompson's failed to inform the miners that they did not have to use their services if they did not wish to. They then proceeded to skim off £10.9m from the settlements it secured for clients and pay it to the unions in the guise of 'administrative charges'

It was only once an investigation started into the practices of this and other firms handling claims that they decided to repay any of this to their clients.

The Western Mail states that there is no suggestion of Mr Antoniw having profited personally from this. Really? Quite apart from the benefits to the firm of which he is a Director, he certainly stands to benefit politically, and there is certainly evidence of some very incestuous relationships.

The firm has donated £175,000 to the Labour Party since 2001. The Unions involved back the Labour Party. No doubt part of Mr Antoniw's campaign will be funded by money from the Unions. Nothing like keeping it in the family is there?

The dubious financial relationships between law firms and trade unions involved in trying to obtain compensation for miners in South Wales and across the UK came to light after The Times revealed its findings in 2005. This set in place the biggest ever investigation into misconduct in the legal profession

Solicitors processing a total of 760,000 claims were paid fees, from the public purse of around £1.2 billion - some (likeThompson's) also deducted money from the miners payments for the unions. Thousands of miners died before they received their rightful compensation.

I wonder how much of this will appear on Mr Antoniw's leaflets and election information? He says he was unable to comment under the terms of the SRA decision. Will that be enough for the voters of Pontypridd?

Karen Roberts

*** This link no longer works. Following a complaint from the Labour party and Thompson's solicitors the article was removed from the website. Similar threats were made by them to sue me for publishing and printing articles about it. However, everything here is fact.