Barking & Dagenham families angry over asbestos payout row

ASBESTOSIS, mesothelioma and pleural plaques are all terms common to families in Barking and Dagenham. The borough has one of the highest instances of asbestos-related deaths in the country. President of GMB laggers union in Barking and Dagenham, Jim Pa

ASBESTOSIS, mesothelioma and pleural plaques are all terms common to families in Barking and Dagenham.

The borough has one of the highest instances of asbestos-related deaths in the country.

President of GMB "laggers" union in Barking and Dagenham, Jim Parrish, described the discovery of lung scarring as being "like a death sentence".

Many of the men Mr Parrish has worked with over the years at factories like Cape Asbestos in Harts Lane, Barking, and Beckton Gas Works, have died.


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Since 1998, 60 laggers have been diagnosed with pleural plaques, pleural thickening, asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Of these, more than half are now dead.

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But the Ministry of Justice says it is unwilling to overrule Law Lords who have denied these victims compensation.

Justice Minister Jack Straw announced at the beginning of this month that anyone with pleural plaques, who put in a claim after 2007, would not receive the �5,000 payout previously awarded.

This decision has incensed asbestos victims and their families.

Lynne Bragger, whose husband Peter, died at the beginning of February after battling asbestosis, has criticised Mr Straw's decision.

She told the POST: "Five years ago my husband was diagnosed with pleural plaques and we were told it was unlikely to turn to asbestosis.

"Six months later, doctors found spots on his lungs. He couldn't work from then until the day he died.

"The compensation he received for the pleural plaques diagnosis helped keep him going.

"I don't know how other families are expected to cope without it."

Mr Parrish said: "Being a lagger is not like other jobs. You get paid when you work. You don't get sick pay, simple as that.

"So what I want to know is why Jack Straw taking away the only compensation that many of these men will ever see in their lifetimes?

"Sadly, most are dead before their claims for the resulting cancers go through."

Despite the unpopularity of the decision the Ministry of Justice says that based on medical evidence it is unable to overturn the Law Lords' ruling.

A spokeswoman said: "While pleural plaques are a marker of exposure to asbestos, they are generally symptomless, are not harmful and do not become harmful.

"However, if new medical or other significant evidence was to emerge, the Government would obviously reassess the situation."

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, who has been heavily involved with asbestos victims' fight for justice, said: "Having worked for many years very closely with the Dagenham laggers and others suffering from asbestos related diseases in the borough we must continue the fight for justice.

"This is a working class disease and for many a life sentence, but the insurance companies are desperate to ensure justice does not prevail.

"The government has announced help for those who had a claim in motion before the law lords ruling in 2007.

"But we must continue to fight to overturn the House of Lords decision. Anyone who is concerned that a member of their family of a friend has an asbestos related disease please contact your union or my office.

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