Miner faces financial ruin after suing his own trade union

Former miner Paul Newbury of Sutton in Ashfield faces financial ruin after spectacularly losing a court action against his own trade union, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (Notts Section) and its claims handling company, Vendside Limited. Newbury was forced to abandon a four year long claim in which he had alleged that the Union had failed to secure him adequate compensation under the British Coal Vibration White Finger Scheme in 2003, despite having received over £20,000.

Newbury had alleged that he should have received additional damages because he had disabilities which forced him to ask others for help with household tasks. He also claimed substantial loss of earnings because VWF had forced him to leave the mining industry. As the case proceeded, evidence mounted against Newbury who claimed money to pay for help with gardening, DIY and window cleaning. He was unaware that the Union obtained surveillance which showed him to be capable of these tasks, apparently without difficulty.

Newbury also claimed substantial damages for loss of earnings despite having taken voluntary redundancy with a substantial lump sum payment after he had lined up another job as a railway trackman. The Union also unearthed documents signed by Newbury in which he admitted that he did not leave the mining industry for health reasons, as he had always claimed.

Newbury now faces financial ruin, having been ordered by the court to pay all the Union’s legal costs, estimated to be more than £100,000. The Union said that it had been forced to spend considerable sums in vindicating its position and so had no hesitation in seeking payment of its legal costs from Newbury. The Union has now made an application for a charging order over Newbury’s house. This could see him forced to sell his home to pay the Union’s legal costs.

Union General Secretary, Mick Stevens said, “Newbury was encouraged to make this claim by his lawyers, no doubt on the promise that he could make himself substantial money at the UDM’s expense. He seems to have been oblivious to the fact that his claim had no merit whatsoever and that, when this came out in court, he would end up risking financial ruin by having to pay all our legal costs. He took out legal insurance which was both inadequate and which is now refusing to pay up because of the facts that emerged. He may now lose his home to pay our costs. Men who have been encouraged by adverts to take similar actions, promising thousands should take warning from this.”

For additional information, please contact David Gwynne:  dgwynne@udmoffices.co.uk