Asbestos victims refused payouts

THOUSANDS of workers who have been scarred by asbestos will not receive compensation after Justice Secretary Jack Straw refused to overturn a Law Lords ruling. In 2007, the House of Lords scrapped payments to people who had developed pleural plaques throu

THOUSANDS of workers who have been scarred by asbestos will not receive compensation after Justice Secretary Jack Straw refused to overturn a Law Lords ruling.

In 2007, the House of Lords scrapped payments to people who had developed pleural plaques through asbestos exposure.

Pleural plaques is a scarring of the lungs, which only occurs in people who have inhaled asbestos dust and can lead to cancers such as mesothelioma.

On Thursday of last week, Mr Straw, announced he would not overturn the Lords' ruling, which denied these victims compensation.


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Only those who submitted their claims before 2007 will receive the one-off �5,000 payout - which comes from the taxpayer not insurance companies.

The Ministry of Justice justified its decision by saying that although pleural plaques were a marker of exposure they were "not generally harmful".

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But a spokeswoman for Thompsons Solicitors, which specialises in compensation claims for asbestos-related illnesses, told the POST the company had seen case studies where clients with pleural plaques suffered from shortness of breath.

The lawyers expressed disappointment at the decision not to restore compensation, but welcomed a new state package for dependents of deceased asbestos victims.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons, said: "On behalf of our clients we are disappointed the government has decided not to overturn the House of Lords judgment, although we recognise that at least some people with pleural plaques will get something."

Barking and Dagenham has one of the highest incidences of asbestos-related deaths in the country, due in part to the many factories that used the substance.

Workers contract cancer years after contact with asbestos in their job. Some may have only worked at places like Cape Asbestos factory, Harts Lane, Barking, for a day.

Jim Parrish, president of the heat and frost insulation branch of GMB union in Barking and Dagenham, said: "I would like to see the Law Lords ruling overturned and the compensation reinstated.

"This money is so important because it may be the only payout workers get while they are still alive.

"That �5,000 helps them through tough times when they can't work in the months before they die. You may not die of plural plaques, but it leads to all the other asbestos-related conditions.

"You ask any lagger. They know a plural plaques diagnosis is a death sentence.

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