Sick miners and their families are losing out on compensation they are entitled to because of administrative failures, according to a critical report by Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor.
Manzoor's second investigation into the British Coal compensation schemes for respiratory diseases and vibration white finger found that the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) had given "poor service" to some miners and their families.
The report claims that the LCS is, as a result, at risk of damaging its reputation. It warns that miners' complaints could become an "Achilles heel" for the LCS if it did not act on Manzoor's proposals, such as good management and administrative checks and balances.
The findings showed that the compensation miners received depended on a "bewildering array" of variables including whether a Member of Parliament was involved, the LCS caseworker handling the complaint and the cooperation of the solicitor's firm being complained about.
Manzoor said: "The LCS side-stepped a recommendation from my first investigation in 2006 to revisit complaints that had not been investigated fully by insisting improvements had already been made. These new findings show that some of the same issues are still to be addressed."