COMPENSATION for deadly asbestos-related diseases should be improved to help local sufferers who are still being denied justice, an MP has claimed.

Independent MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock won the promise of a government meeting for local campaigners after a parliamentary speech highlighting the tragic circumstances of a retired shipyard worker who died from mesothelioma in December last year.

Jack Hordon, of Hawcoat, Barrow, was refused vital compensation for his terminal illness because he had previously been encouraged to make a claim for pleural plaques, a less serious condition also caused by asbestos fibres entering the lungs.

For many years the shipbuilding environment – and other forms of employment – contained serious health hazards, such as asbestos, which resulted in workers contracting lung disease.

Barrow has the highest rate of deaths from asbestos related lung cancer in England and Wales.

But some who developed pleural plaques – a less serious condition than mesothelioma – were encouraged by solicitors to accept comparatively modest pay-outs and in doing so signed waivers which ruled out any further reimbursements. Consequently, if the disease developed into cancer they were without redress.

Mr Hordon was advised that he had only a one per cent chance of contracting mesothelioma. But in August 2017 he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with the terminal condition forcing his disabled wife of 65 years to go into a care home. The ex-submarine builder and merchant navy sailor had been his wife’s full-time carer for 20 years.

Mr Hordon’s family members fear that he was not properly advised in the rush to sign people up for pleural plaques compensation before the illness became ineligible for pay-outs in 2007.

They have enlisted the support of Mr Woodcock who is pushing the government to launch an inquiry into “potential sharp practices” from ambulance chasing lawyers who may have exploited the pleural plaques scheme without properly warning sufferers that it could render them ineligible for vital help if their condition worsened.

Speaking in a debate on uprating up-rating mesothelioma pay-outs in line with inflation, Mr Woodcock said: “Mr Hordon’s case is similar to many thousands of my constituents, people who served their families and their communities, they’ve provided for themselves and their families, but they did a service for the nation in Barrow’s shipyard. They built vessels that went to war, the submarine fleets which have kept our nation safe for many, many years. And because of sometimes a lack of knowledge, oftentimes a lack of care for their employees at the time they were exposed to this deadly killer that laid sometime for decades until it struck and took their life away in the most cruel and painful circumstances.”

The MP went on to describe how he had worked as a special adviser to former Barrow MP and work and pensions secretary John Hutton (now Lord Hutton) to speed up justice for victims.

Mr Woodcock said: “Mr Hordon was diagnosed in August 2017 as a sufferer of malignant mesothelioma. He had been a full-time carer for 20 years of his wife of 65 years. So the financial burden which that was placing and the uncertainty of course gave a real imperative to seek mesothelioma compensation. The initial contact with solicitors was positive. However, the solicitors soon came back with the discovery that Mr Hordon had previously made a claim for plural plaques, which it turned out he had signed on the strong advice of his solicitors at the time.

“Two issues arise from Mr Hordon’s tragic death. One is the injustice of him being denied the compensation and secondly, on the case of an enquiry into practices around plural plaques."

Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton said: “I am always happy to meet colleagues from across the House if they have particular constituency issues or if people who really need support are falling between the cracks. There are three different schemes available to support people. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that people get the support to which they are entitled.”