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Energy bosses getting away with murder

Protesters pin blame for 31,000 winter deaths on price-gouging privateers

Greedy bosses of Britain's energy privateers were confronted at their City hideouts by campaigners yesterday as official figures revealed the cold claimed 31,000 lives last winter.

The figure was written across a black coffin stuffed with unaffordable fuel bills that was delivered to Npower's London headquarters.

It represented a shocking 29 per cent leap in "excess winter deaths," according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rise was revealed just a day after energy regulator Ofgem said the "big six" have increased their profits fivefold - or over £1 billion - since 2009.

Dozens of pensioners and disabled people were among 200 protesters who brought the streets of London's corporate hub to a standstill.

Members of the Greater London Pensioners Association marched in woolly jumpers in outrage at Tory orders that they wear more layers in winter.

Pensioner Betty Cottingham (pictured) told the Star that some of her friends who cannot afford to heat their homes keep warm in public places.

She said: "Some of my neighbours have this thing of going to shopping centres or the library to delay putting on the heating because they can't afford it.

"But there are disabled people who are not in the position to do that, they can't get out.

"There's only so many woolly hats you can wear at a time."

National Pensioners Convention leader Dot Gibson said the government must insulate more homes and increase the winter fuel allowance to end the "national scandal."

Campaigners also demanded the energy industry be taken back into public ownership during a noisy rally in front of Npower's plush offices.

UK Uncut spokeswoman Susan Jarrett said the Con-Dem coalition was literally allowing companies "to get away with murder."

And Clare Felton of Fuel Poverty Action said that only "a combination of publicly owned and community controlled renewable energy, alongside mass insulation, would bring down the bills."

Protesters read out heartbreaking personal testimonies of people plunged into fuel poverty by the privateers.

They included messages from a pensioner who said: "I feel some days it's not worth going on" and a woman who only turns the heating on if her daughter's friends are visiting so she is not stigmatised for being poor.

Nicole Mann of the Single Mothers Self Defence group reported that members have been warned to heat their homes or lose their children.

"They're saying if you can't heat your home and feed your children then we're going to take them into care," she said.

Protesters also descended on the headquarters of British Gas in Oxford and energy company offices in Bristol and Lewes.

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