Miners begin health claims

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What could become the biggest health compensation claim was launched yesterday by six former miners and two widows, selected from a large group of potential claimants, who allege that British Coal wrongly denied colliers payments for a range of chest illnesses linked to exposure to coal dust.

The ex-miners are to give evidence of their illnesses in hearings at Cardiff and Sheffield before the case transfers to London after Christmas. Stuart Brown QC said if British Coal had been able to compensate for the lung disease pneumoconiosis, then it should also be liable for other conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema. Patricia Wynn Davies