MPs hit out at Watson Burton over miner claims

Eighty-one MPs have signed an early-day motion condemning Watson Burton‘s handling of the controversial miners’ compensation scheme and have called for the firm to refund compensation money to the miners.

The motion slates the firm for “colluding” with claims firm PR & Associates (PRA) and for deducting the money, which was directed to PRA from the coal mining disease victims’ compensation scheme.

The motion stated: “Watson Burton should pay back those former miners and widows of former miners who have had their rightful compensation reduced as a result of these unscrupulous practices.”

As first reported by The Lawyer (6 October), leaked internal documents revealed that eight partners at the firm, including former and current managing partners Andrew Hoyle and Rob Langley, had been reprimanded by the Law Society for abuse of the scheme.

The reprimand followed an investigation that found £325,945 had been paid to PRA in breach of the Solicitors’ Practice Rules.

Watson Burton finance director Nick Delaney said: “People entered into contracts with PRA before they came to us and before we even knew about them, and those are legally binding. There was nothing we could have advised them to do by that stage, and any money paid to PRA from our accounts was on the instruction of the client.”