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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Barrow MP to study new asbestos bill

PLANS to simplify claims made by people affected by asbestos exposure have been met with a mixed reaction.

The Queen laid out plans to make it easier for victims of asbestos-related cancer to claim compensation in her speech on Wednesday.

The Mesothelioma Bill aims to help claimants where the insurance company of their former employer cannot be traced. Estimates suggest the bill, if passed, would help around 3,500 victims of mesothelioma.

With one of the highest rates of asbestos-related illness in the country, campaigners in Barrow are eager to see what effect the new legislation will have for those fighting legal battles against former employers.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said he would be studying the bill to see if it can help people in the area.

He said: “This has been an underwhelming Queen’s Speech, but I strongly welcome the inclusion of a bill to give mesothelioma sufferers compensation even when the liable employer cannot be traced.

“This measure would build on the progress towards a fund of last resort made by John Hutton when he was tackling this horrific, life-shortening disease in government.”

Councillor Bob Pointer, a co-founder of the Barrow Asbestos-Related Diseases Support, added: “Hopefully this will assist people, but we don’t really know until we see how it works.”

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have assisted families throughout the country with their claims, and have said the scheme does not put victims first.

Adrian Budgen, head of the asbestos-related disease team at the company, said: “In some situations it is impossible to find evidence of victims’ employers’ insurance records where firms have since ceased to exist many years ago.

“While the government has tried to address this issue with the promise of a scheme to help those who cannot trace an insurer, the law only applies to people with mesothelioma.

“That will leave around half of asbestos victims high and dry.”

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