THE future of Durham Miners’ Gala is at risk after organisers were landed with a £2million legal bill for fighting claims for suffering pitmen.
Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) will have to pay the final settlement of a six-year battle for compensation, for members who have osteoarthritis of the knee.
The DMA said lawyers on both sides agreed injuries were caused by working in the mines, but the case failed at the Court of Appeal.
Dave Hopper, the DMA’s general secretary, said: “Paying this bill will have a serious effect on our finances, which means that our ability to continue with the Durham Miners’ Gala will depend largely on donations to The Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala.
“We believe that this is a people’s gala and if we have thousands of people give a little each year, the gala will be safe.”
He added while it would accept funding from the trade unions, it is the people of Durham who have saved the event previously, and will benefit from it continuing.
The first Big Meeting was held in 1871, with the annual event, on the second Saturday of July, attracting tens of thousands of people.