A BARNSLEY law firm that made more than £77 million from miners' compensation could be dropped by the NUM after calling its members 'thick'.

The insult came in a training manual Raleys Solicitors wrote for its own staff. In that manual a generic miner making a compensation claim is referred to as "Mr Thikas Toosh Ortplanks".

This week the Yorkshire area council of the NUM voted to send a strongly worded letter to Raleys inviting the firm, which has acted as the union's solicitors for more than 90 years, to the union's Barnsley HQ to explain their actions.

Carol Gill, managing partner of Raleys Solicitors, said: "The reference was part of a staff training exercise conducted in 2002. I believe it did not reflect the true, general attitude of Raleys at the time, and it certainly does not reflect the attitude of any of our staff today."

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** The full story is in the Barnsley Chronicle, dated July 25. **