John Woodcock, Independent MP for Barrow and Furness in Cumbria, has in a parliamentary speech highlighting the sad circumstances of a retired shipyard worker who died from mesothelioma just before Christmas, called on the government to change the compensation rules for those who get deadly asbestos-related conditions.
Jack Hordon from Barrow, was unable to claim for compensation for his terminal illness, money much needed to help with the care of his disabled wife, 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.
Mr Hordon’s family members fear that he did not receive the proper advice due to the rush to sign people up for pleural plaques compensation before the illness became ineligible for pay-outs in 2007 after the House of Lords ruled that pleural plaques are not an injury that merits compensation, although tens of thousands of workers had already received compensation since a high court ruling in the mid-1980s.
By signing Mr Hordon waivered his rights to any further compensation if the disease developed into cancer.
Mr Woodcock spoke during a debate on up-rating mesothelioma pay-outs in line with inflation and 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.”
Mr Woodcock continued: “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 pleural plaques and accepted a comparatively small pay-out 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 which he needed every bit as much as anyone else who falls victim to this.
And secondly, on the case of an enquiry into practices around plural plaques at the time and the prospect that there were effectively sharp practices going on by firms which wanted to seize the chance of cash without proper analysis of what the real risks were to people.”
He went on to add: “Please will the government agree to examine the issue so that we can have a prospect of justice for people who find themselves in this situation?”
Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton responded by saying: “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, and we are talking about two of them today. I would be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to explore those issues and to discuss the three compensation programmes to see whether there is more that we can do. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that people get the support to which they are entitled.”
Simcox Oliver Solicitors are a leading specialist law firm acting exclusively for claimants who have contracted an occupationally induced industrial disease, such as an asbestos related disease.
With over 35 years’ occupational disease and personal injury experience we are unlike other industrial disease and personal injury firms as we only employ experienced and qualified lawyers to deal with your claim.
To discuss the potential of making a claim please call us today on 0161 804 8004.