Final blow as King's Cross victim is left with huge bill

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The Independent Online
His face is a mask of scar tissue, his hands are so severely burnt that he can no longer play the guitar and keyboards, and his voice is too damaged to sing. He is laughed at wherever he goes.

But for Kwasi Afari Minta, the Ghanaian musician who was caught in the King's Cross fire, the suffering does not end. On top of everything, he learnt yesterday that he now faces a legal bill approaching pounds 150,000.

Mr Minta, the most severely injured survivor of the disaster a decade ago, was awarded just pounds 110,427 damages by a High Court judge after an eight-day hearing. Since he turned down the pounds 350,000 settlement offered by London Underground because it was "simply not enough", he must now pay the company's lawyers' fees.

Speaking after the ruling by Mr Justice Toulson, Mr Minta, 43, who had submitted a claim for pounds 1m plus damages, said: "I am very disappointed. I have come out of this with nothing after all the suffering."

Patricia Dryden, head of litigation for London Transport, said they had already made payments of pounds 100,500 to Mr Minta and had tried to settle the action.

"Our last settlement offer of pounds 355,000 was deemed so sufficient by the Legal Aid Board that, because Mr Minta did not accept it, they withdrew legal aid a few days before the case was due to come to court, which meant he had no legal representation at court."

During the hearing earlier this month, Mr Minta, who lives with in Putney, south-west London, and is married with a five-year-old autistic son, admitted he was an illegal immigrant who should not have been in Britain at the time of the tragedy. He was given only a one-month visitor's visa when he arrived in the UK in 1985. He told Mr Justice Toulson that when he arrived he had not realised he needed a visa.

The giant fireball which exploded at King's Cross in November 1987 killed 31 people. A total of pounds 4.5m has been paid out to 110 people making claims for death, injury and property damages.