DURHAM Miners’ Association has defended itself after a Labour MP questioned where millions of pounds in former union cash has gone.
Durham North MP Kevan Jones said it was clear that the union in 2007 had more than enough money to meet any sudden shock.
Concern was raised this week that the Durham Miners’ Gala could be at risk after the association was handed a £2million legal bill after a lengthy legal battle to secure compensation for miners suffering from osteoarthritis. A plea for help funding the Gala has led to concerns from the Durham North MP, who said questions had to be answered over union cash.
Mr Jones said: “There are serious questions to be asked here.
“We know that in 2007 there was around £6.4million of investments including an offshore bank account.
“A decision by the leadership to delist as a union means they do not have to publicise the accounts any more.
“I would challenge them to make the latest accounts public.”
The association said: “We were somewhat disappointed but not wholly surprised to hear the negative comments of Kevan Jones, Labour MP for North Durham, after our appeal for help in securing the future of the Durham Miners’ Gala was lost.
“He did not seem at all concerned that thousands of disabled miners had been denied the right to fight for compensation for the industrial disease they had contracted during a lifetime of work in dangerous conditions underground.
It added: “We have never said that we have no money left.
“What we are saying is that looking after the interests of an ageing membership must take priority over the funding of the Gala.
“It was inevitable that at some stage this situation would arise since we have had no income from working miners for 20 years.
“Having to pay £2million for the Government’s lawyers costs has only brought the situation closer.”