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Welcome to the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (AVSGF)

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (AVSGF-UK) is an umbrella organisation representing asbestos victims support groups. The Forum' s main purpose is to work collectively to provide one voice for asbestos victims.

For advice on benefits and compensation and support for sufferers of asbestos disease and their families contact Forum Members

GMAVSG News Archive...

Landmark Victory in the High Court for Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) have won a case in the High Court for disclosure of historic documents that could reveal that industry and Government agencies knew far more about the dangers of asbestos products than they revealed.

In February 2017 a 6 week long case concluded in the Royal Courts of Justice between insurance companies, who had previously paid compensation to dying mesothelioma victims, and Cape Distribution Limited and subsidiary companies. The insurers argued that Cape should share the costs of compensation as it was their products that had caused the diseases, and because Cape knew more about the dangers of their products than they had disclosed.

During the course of this case, the Cape companies were ordered to disclose thousands of documents which showed what they knew about the dangers of exposure to asbestos. Both sides made a confidential agreement to destroy these documents at the end of the trial. On hearing this, the Forum instructed Harminder Bains of Leigh Day to apply to the Court to preserve the documents, which Master McCloud granted in April.

At a 3 day hearing in the High Court in October, Counsel for the Forum argued that it was in the public interest that the Forum be given these documents. They could help mesothelioma victims currently pursuing compensation claims in courts. It was also in the wider public interest to learn more about how Cape contributed to the biggest industrial disaster this country has ever seen and how their political lobbying influenced Government safety measures that were supposed to protect the lives and well-being of workers.

In her judgement of 5 December Master McCloud agreed the Forum had a legitimate interest in obtaining the documents, and decided in the Forum’s favour, agreeing disclosure of most of the documents the Forum had requested. She stated that the Forum was “a group which provides help and support to asbestos victims. In some respects it is also a pressure group and is involved in lobbying and in promoting asbestos knowledge and safety. Those are legitimate activities and provide legitimate interest”.

Graham Dring, Chair of the Forum said “This decision is fantastic news. Cape, along with Turner & Newall were the two biggest asbestos companies in this country. Their activities and products exposed thousands of workers and their families to asbestos and caused many deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. It is essential we now find out exactly how much they knew about the dangers of their products and when they knew this. These documents have been hidden for far too long. Cape owe us all an explanation of their role in the biggest industrial scandal to hit this country, a scandal that has not yet run its course with tens of thousands more men and women expected to die from mesothelioma”.

Harminder Bains of Leigh Day, and Rob Weir and Jonathan Butters of Devereux Chambers acted on behalf of the Forum.

Click here to read a copy of the judgement

Action Mesothelioma Day 2017

6 May 2016

Keep Phoenix House benefits office open!

Phoenix House in Barrow, Cumbria has been earmarked for closure in March 2018 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Phoenix House is a specialist benefits office that deals with all Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) claims for people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases throughout the country.

If the closure goes ahead it will be a blow for mesothelioma sufferers who benefit greatly from the expertise that has been built up over many years by the DWP staff based in this office. In addition to IIDB claims, staff at Phoenix process linked benefits such as Constant Attendance Allowance, Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance and lump sums paid under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 and 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme.

This is a niche area of the benefits system with complex benefit rules and a vulnerable client group, many of whom are elderly and have been newly diagnosed with a terminal illness. They need to be sure their claims will be dealt with sensitively and efficiently. Staff at Phoenix House tick all these boxes. Advice workers can reassure mesothelioma patients that the benefits to which they are entitled will be processed and paid within two to three weeks in nearly all cases.

The 70 workers in Phoenix House have built up a huge amount of expertise in these specialist benefits over many years. If the office closes the most likely result would be a deterioration in service, longer delays in processing benefit claims and increased uncertainty for mesothelioma patients. Forum groups have developed an excellent working relationship with staff at Phoenix House and the people we help have benefitted greatly from their expertise and empathy.

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK fully supports the Phoenix House workers in their campaign to keep this office open.  We have sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions which has been supported by all the main charities and support groups working with victims of asbestos diseases, along with people living with mesothelioma, bereaved family members, doctors and lawyers.

We are now in the middle of a General Election campaign. There will be a new Government and new Ministers after June. We intend to keep the pressure on to keep Phoenix House open after the election and will resend the open letter so that the new Government Ministers are left in no doubt about our total opposition to the closure of this office.

If you would like to add your support for this open letter, please contact the Forum at asbestos.mcr@gmail.com

You can also support this campaign by signing the online petition at https://www. change.org/p/ department-for-workand-pensionssave-phoenix-housekeep-jobs-inbarrow-retain-asbestosdiseaseknowledge-experience

Click here to view/download the letter.

20 December 2016

Identity of asbestos spy revealed

The name of the individual caught spying on asbestos campaign groups has been revealed after the High Court lifted his anonymity protection. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/08/k2-corporate-spy-infiltrated-anti-asbestos-campaign-court-told

Robert (Rob) Moore had posed as a sympathetic filmmaker in an attempt to infiltrate and gather private information on campaigners in the UK and overseas. Moore worked for K2 Intelligence Ltd, a firm founded by Jules Kroll, "a leading figure in the corporate intelligence industry" according to the Guardian, and run by his son and co-founder Jeremy.

READ MORE...

 

15 December 2016

It’s official – Canada to ban use of asbestos by 2018

The Canadian Federal government announced today that asbestos and asbestos-containing materials will be banned by 2018.

This is a significant and welcome reversal by Canada which, until very recently, was one of the leading asbestos mining and exporting countries in the world.

Credit is due to all those campaigners in Canada, Asia and other parts of the world who have kept up the fight, against well resourced and well connected industry opposition, to achieve this fantastic turnaround.

Full story

Press release from campaign groups

 

24 November 2016

Asbestos victims welcome Companies House change of heart on destroying records

Groups representing sufferers of asbestos related diseases have welcomed reassurances given on behalf of the Government that proposals to destroy records of dissolved companies have been abandoned.
The Guardian reported in August that Companies House was planning to destroy the records of companies that had been dissolved for longer than 6 years, overturning their current policy of retaining records for at least 20 years.
If these proposals had been implemented they would have proved disastrous for people with the incurable asbestos related cancer mesothelioma seeking to secure compensation for their negligent workplace exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos diseases take decades to develop1, sometimes as long as 60 years following exposure to asbestos.
Because of this long latency period the negligent employer has usually gone out of business by the time the disease develops.
Access to Companies House records on dissolved companies is crucial for victims trying to secure justice, enabling them to identify the correct trading name of their former employer and the insurance company liable to pay compensation.
Thousands of people could have been denied access to justice if these records had been destroyed.
Responding to Parliamentary questions2, Margot James MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), confirmed that not only would there be no reduction in the length of time Companies House retained these records but that there would now be no destruction of any records currently held on dissolved companies until and unless there is an agreed change of policy.
She also confirmed there would be no change in this policy without a full public consultation.
Welcoming this change of heart, Graham Dring, Chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups' Forum UK said:
"This decision is good news for victims of mesothelioma and other long-tail industrial diseases who already face an uphill struggle securing justice in the courts. If these proposals had gone ahead it would have denied access to justice to many asbestos victims unable to pursue a negligent employer or their insurer.
"It is also reassuring to hear the Minister confirm that no records will now be destroyed as even the 20 year retention period is inadequate in protecting the interests of terminally ill asbestos victims who may have been exposed to asbestos 40 or 50 years before. There is no way of predicting which records may be needed in the future. Storage should not be an issue with the technology available to us today and we expect Companies House to maintain its commitment to those suffering from mesothelioma now and the thousands more predicted in the future by retaining records of all dissolved companies."

For further details, please see this press release: Companies House press release

Read the Guardian article on this

 

June 17

Kathleen Ruff honoured by Quebec’s National Assembly

One of Canada’s best known anti-asbestos campaigners has been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honour by Quebec’s National Assembly in recognition of her tireless work campaigning against Canada’s deadly asbestos trade, and her pivotal role in bringing this trade to a halt.

Kathleen Ruff is well known to Forum members but her achievements deserve wider recognition. This award would have been unthinkable until fairly recently. Quebec was the heart of Canada’s asbestos industry, and Canada was one of the world’s leading asbestos producing and exporting countries. To defeat the asbestos industry in Canada the fight would have to be taken to the heart of the beast and Kathleen did this with relentless determination. She managed to pull together an effective coalition of doctors and scientists who were prepared to stand up and say publically that chrysotile kills. She worked closely with asbestos victims in Canada and other countries to expose the devastating effects of Canada’s love affair with asbestos. She persuaded key politicians to break with the consensus and take a stand against the asbestos industry. And she took on the lies and distortions of the asbestos lobby, their go-to scientists and the politicians who pushed their interests in Government.

As recently as 2012, the Quebec government had awarded the asbestos industry $58 million to help open the giant Jeffrey underground asbestos mine. But later that year, thanks in large part to Kathleen’s tireless campaigning alongside others, the loan was withdrawn and the mine closed, effectively putting an end to Canada’s century old asbestos trade. This was a triumph for campaigners in Canada as they defeated an industry with powerful friends and deep pockets.

The results, in terms of lives that will be saved in Canada, and the countries which received its asbestos exports, are incalculable. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kathleen for her tireless and selfless campaigning. She is a shining example of what can be achieved with truth and determination. We in the Forum would like to extend our heartfelt congratulation to Kathleen on this richly deserved award.


Kathleen Ruff at Action Mesothelioma Day in Manchester, July 2012.

More info on the award and Kathleen’s work can be found  here


Action Mesothelioma Day 2016


30 March 2016

Asbestos Victims Groups welcome £5 million pledged for a National Mesothelioma Centre but argue for full consultation and open tenders before funds allocated.

Funding for mesothelioma research has always been pitifully low and for years now the Forum has campaigned hard for better funding. Our groups have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for research through sponsorship of our Action Mesothelioma Day events and other fundraising activities.

So we are delighted that £5 million has been pledged by the Chancellor with the express aim of establishing a National Mesothelioma Centre to give a lead on developing research to find better treatment and a cure for this dreadful disease. This is a significant sum, at least compared to funding previously given for mesothelioma research.

Although this is a one-off grant it can be a springboard for the future if used wisely. We desperately need a national strategy for research which enhances collaboration amongst the leading researchers and builds on the cutting edge work already going on in the UK. We also need ongoing, sustainable funding earmarked specifically for mesothelioma research so that we can continue to develop new ideas and treatments, and also attract more researchers to the field, who may currently see this area of work as too risky given past funding difficulties.

At the moment it is unclear where and how this money will be allocated and that is a major concern. None of the leading mesothelioma researchers, research institutions or charities were consulted before the Budget announcement and were as surprised as anyone to hear the news.

During discussions at the annual All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Asbestos Seminar in the House of Commons on 22 March it was suggested that a decision had already been made by the relevant Minister to award this money to a consortium of institutions led by Imperial College, all based in London. If true, this is a shocking disregard for the existing experience and talent of mesothelioma researchers in the UK. Imperial College may have many fine qualities but they have published little, if any mesothelioma research.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, we have some of the best research in the world already going on under our noses. A National Mesothelioma Centre does not have to be a ‘bricks and mortar’ centre. Why not a ‘virtual centre’, co-ordinating the research already happening in places like Leicester, Cambridge, Sheffield and Southampton?

The Forum has written to George Freeman MP, the responsible Minister, to urge full consultation and an open tender process before any decisions are made about the allocation of the £5 million, or the National Mesothelioma Centre. We need decisions that are made in the best interests of mesothelioma patients, and that requires open consultation with all the best people, not secret backroom deals.

We have an opportunity to drive the fight against mesothelioma forward and give victims some hope for the first time. That requires collaboration and openness not private negotiations. We should seize this opportunity with both hands, get all those currently leading on mesothelioma research around the table with politicians and civil servants and decide collectively the best way to spend the £5 million Budget award, what type of National Mesothelioma Centre we need and how we sustain progress in research for the future.

Click here to read the letter to George Freeman

15 February 2016

Asbestos victims will miss Lord Avebury, one of their staunchest champions, who died on the 13 February 2016.

Lord Avebury championed many causes during his long political career, including the campaign to protect workers from the dangers of asbestos, and to provide justice for asbestos victims and their families, which continues to this day.

In 1976, Lord Avebury was one of the first, and most influential supporters of the late Nancy Tait MBE, assisting her in the publication of her book, Asbestos Kills, and becoming a trustee of Nancy Tait's organisation, the Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and industrial Diseases (SPAID).

More recently, Lord Avebury was one of the main proponents of exceptional treatment for asbestos victims in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and for improvements to the Mesothelioma Act 2014, which set up a scheme to pay compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace employers' liability insurance. During the passage of both Acts Lord Avebury kept in close touch with the Forum and spoke eloquently and passionately in support of the Forum's demands.

Lord Avebury was a champion of Human Rights and a true friend of asbestos victims. He will be greatly missed in the ongoing campaign for justice for all asbestos victims.


14 January 2016

Victims Groups disappointed at Mesothelioma Fund levy cut

Click here to read press release


16 October 2015

The asbestos crisis – why Britain needs an eradication law

Asbestos victims’ groups have today welcomed proposals for a new law to remove asbestos from workplaces, public buildings and homes in Britain.

Click to read more...

9 October 2015

Michael Lees, who set up the Asbestos in Schools group and initiated the Joint Union Asbestos Committee, stepped down from his roles in these organisations earlier this year. Michael, who lost his wife to mesothelioma, was a committed and effective campaigner on the issue of asbestos in schools. This tribute from Tony Whitston, former Forum Chair, given at an event last month to celebrate Michael’s achievements,  gives a flavour of the man.
 

“It is no exaggeration to say that Michael stands among that pantheon of remarkable asbestos campaigners, Alice Jefferson, June Hancock and Nancy Tait, all of whom were personally affected by mesothelioma, and through their courage, determination and sheer bloody mindedness faced down an uncaring and often callous bureaucracy.

Like Nancy Tait, Michael lost his spouse to mesothelioma and, like her, dedicated his every waking moment to fight for justice. Both were awarded an MBE. Both had to master complex, technical data to challenge government experts. Nancy’s expertise was recognised with an honorary doctorate. Michael deserves no less: in our view, anyone who can follow Robin Howie’s baffling statistics deserves the highest academic accolade!

It was said of Nancy that “She could be obstinate and uncompromising, even with those sympathetic to her cause.” We have to confess that when Michael came on the scene we soon learnt that he wasn’t taking his place in turn on any committee agenda and it was no use grumping about it. Michael was shrewd enough to recognise that the Forum was essentially a victim-first organisation and though we had our part to play we were not up to the task he had set. As things turned out, Michael gave us all a master class in how to establish an effective asbestos in schools campaign - the painstaking detail of which is known to many here who worked with Michael setting up the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) and working across the political divide.

It was said that Nancy’s benign appearance and gentleness of manner made her an unlikely campaigner.  We can recall a meeting where someone, referring to Michael, asked Who’s that posh bloke in a suit? That posh bloke in a suit, like Nancy, combined courtesy and charm with incisive shrewdness and steely determination as many a Minister and civil servant found to their cost.

Sadly, the organisation Nancy set up, OEDA, did not survive her. The same cannot be said in Michael’s case. Michael has ensured that the asbestos in schools campaign will continue on his retirement and JUAC will carry on the work he started and will build on his many achievements. That is no mean feat. All he has achieved came at great personal cost and, it has to be said, at considerable financial cost.

Michael has been an inspiration to us all, a good friend and comrade, a tireless campaigner who has an honoured place in the history of asbestos. We wish him well on his retirement.”

 

29 September 2015

Asbestos: Killer Fibre!

Paris, France: An explosive report released today at the 13th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation documents a shocking loss of life caused by asbestos exposures throughout the European Union (EU), with the number of deaths per year estimated to be in excess of 47,000.

The figures cited by Dr. Jukka Takala and the co-authors of this report are more than treble previous estimates but, as bad as they are, they do not tell the whole story about Europe's asbestos pandemic.

There are multiple reasons for this. The deaths counted exclude:

  • those from environmental or domestic asbestos exposures – which are killing even more people in asbestos hotspots than workplace exposures;
  • fatalities from other asbestos-related diseases such as cancers of the larynx and ovary, and possibly stomach, colorectal and pharynx cancers;
  • asbestos-related mortality from European countries not in the EU, many of which
    continue to consume large amounts of asbestos and asbestos-containing products.

READ MORE...


27 July 2015

STOP PLAYING WITH CANCER!

Asbestos victims support groups, trade unions and UK campaigning bodies are urging local authorities, government agencies and market surveillance bodies to prioritize the threat posed by the possible asbestos contamination of UK imports.

Read more...


4 July 2015

Government gives way again over court costs in face of asbestos victims’ legal challenge

The Asbestos Victims Support Group’s Forum brought a judicial review challenge to the Government’s enhanced court costs which means that most mesothelioma sufferers will have to pay an average £7,500, and up to £10,000, to bring a claim for compensation.

Claimants can receive remission from paying court costs if they are on a low income and they do not have more than £16,000 in capital. Since most mesothelioma sufferers are paid approximately £16,000 in statutory compensation they would not be eligible for remission of court fees.

The Government have accepted that this was wrong and are amending the remission fee order so that statutory payments are not treated as capital. This change is effective from 3 July 2015.  

The Forum says:

“Yet again, dying mesothelioma sufferers who have very limited financial resources have had to take court action to get justice. In this case they should never have had to launch legal action to stop the Government charging £10,000 in court costs to claim compensation for the criminal negligence of employers, often Government as employer, who continued to expose them to asbestos decades after it was known to cause cancer.”


23 April 2015

Charter for Justice launched

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK has issued a Charter for Justice for asbestos victims. The Charter sets out a small number of easily affordable reforms that would make a real difference to asbestos victims.

This country owes a debt of justice to asbestos victims and their families. We all have a duty to make sure victims receive the help they need. We all have an interest in making sure that asbestos is removed from the buildings we live and work in so that no one suffers in the future. This Charter sets out how we could achieve these aims. We hope everyone can support it. In particular we would like our politicians and policy makers to support it.

Please pledge your support for the Charter for Justice today, and make sure that any politician you vote for supports it too.

Click here to view the Charter

13 March 2015

Asbestos Victims Groups Welcome Publication of Government’s  Asbestos in Schools Report. Now we need long term strategic policies to remove this deadly material from our schools
Click to read more...

28 January 2015

UK victims of mesothelioma support Eternit victims in Italy

On 18 November 2014, a delegation of 13 Forum members travelled from the UK to Italy. Our itinerary would be to spend 2 days in Rome to witness the Italian Supreme Court's verdict on the Eternit trial - click to read more...

3 October 2014

High Court Halts Government Plans to Increase Asbestos Victims’ Legal Costs

In a stunning rebuke for the Government the High Court has today (2 October 2014) put a halt to Government plans that would have seen court damages paid to mesothelioma victims cut, a move designed to save money for the wealthy insurance companies liable to pay damages. The High Court, only two months after the damning report of the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee, found in favour of the Forum’s Judicial Review application to stop these changes being forced through.

To read the Forum’s press release click here

5 September 2014

TUC Congress 2014 Fringe Meeting Monday 8th September, 1pm in Hall 13 BT Convention Centre

Asbestos Victims– An Agenda for Justice

Speakers: Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions

Tony Whitston (Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK)

Marie Hughes (Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group)
Chair: Jennie Formby– Political Director for Unite the Union

-A buffet lunch will be provided-

Asbestos victims currently face the attacks of the insurance industry on access to compensation, as set out in their secret deal with the Coalition Government. We don’t need secret deals; we need an agenda for justice. Come along to the meeting and find out what you can do to make it a reality. To see flyer click here...

01 August 2014

Justice Committee Condemns "Maladroit" and "Unsatisfactory" Government Mesothelioma Claims Review 

In a report published today the Justice Committee heavily criticises the Government's review which ended the exemption for mesothelioma sufferers from paying legal costs associated with compensation claims. The Justice Committee says the Government must consult again following a "maladroit" review which was rushed through without ensuring that claimants received relevant information and was "shaped" by a one-sided heads of agreement between the Association of British Insurers and the Government, which was kept secret from claimants and the Justice Committee.



13 June 2014

Government secret deal with insurers exposed

A secret agreement between the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the Government has come to light following the Justice Select Committee hearing on mesothelioma claims.

To see the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum Press release click here

To see the exposed secret agreement click here

13 May 2014


Justice Select Committee hearing on mesothelioma claims

On the 13 May 2014 the Justice Select Committee heard evidence from claimants' and defendants' representatives at their hearing on mesothelioma claims. Doug Jewell gave evidence on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum and you can read the written Forum evidence and Doug's oral evidence as well as all written and oral evidence if you click here...

4 April

Justice Committee enquiry on Mesothelioma Claims

The Justice Select Committee has called for evidence for a short enquiry into the decision to apply the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) provisions to mesothelioma claims. Written evidence is invited by April 30 2014.

25 March 2014


Forum challenges Government response to consultation Reforming mesothelioma claims

The Government response to the consultation Reforming mesothelioma claims, 6 March 2014,confirmed the ministerial announcement, 4 December 2012, that it intended to bring into force the requirement to pay legal costs in mesothelioma claims. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK which has applied for a judicial review of this decision sent amended arguments (grounds) to the government on 25 March rebutting the Government's response to the consultation justifying removal of the mesothelioma exception.

To read the Government response to the consultation please click here...

To read a précis of the Forum grounds challenging the decision please click here...

To read the Forum amended grounds challenging the decision please click here...

3 March 2014

The Health and Safety Executive plans to develop an asbestos behaviour change campaign in 2014.

The Health and Safety Executive have conducted research to identify key issues for an asbestos campaign in 2014. The campaign will utilise regional radio, building on the success of the Hidden Killer Campaign, and will aim to distribute asbestos information kits.

To see the HSE commissioned research click here ....

19 February 2014

New survey launches to help identify mesothelioma treatment uncertainties

An important survey has launched today that will help to inform future research into mesothelioma diagnosis, treatments and care. Click here to read it...

30 January

The Mesothelioma Bill was given royal assent on the 30 January 2014

The Mesothelioma Bill is now an Act of Parliament: The Mesothelioma Act 2014. Asbestos victims support groups welcome the new Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme which will come into operation in July 2014, but will continue to campaign for improvements to the payment scheme and for payments to sufferers of asbestos diseases other than mesothelioma.

21 January 2014

Lord Alton introduces the Mesothelioma (Amendment) Bill for mesothelioma research 

Lord Alton has introduced a Private Members's Bill in the House of Lords to amend the Mesothelioma Bill to provide for the levy on insurers to include a research supplement.

To see the Bill please click here

8 January 2014

Stalwart Asbestos Victims’ Champion Paul Goggins MP has died

Paul Goggins MPPaul Goggins MP speaking at Action Mesothelioma Day Manchester
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups across the UK are deeply saddened by the news that Paul Goggins MP has died. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends. Tony Whitston, Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum pays tribute to Paul Goggins.
“Paul was a true champion of asbestos victims whose plight he sympathised with, but along with a dedicated group of MPs and Peers, was also determined to do something about. As his Parliamentary colleagues will know better than anyone else, Paul was able to work across the parliamentary divide. He shepherded Lord Alton’s amendment to exempt asbestos victims from paying legal costs through the House of Commons, with strong support from the Conservative Tracey Crouch MP, eventually winning an exemption for mesothelioma sufferers. Paul was due to speak to several key amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill in the House of Commons yesterday, where many MPs paid tribute to his work on behalf of asbestos victims, still hoping for his full recovery. Sadly, his colleagues have now lost the most decent of Parliamentarians, we have lost a true friend and we send our heartfelt sympathy to Paul’s family and close friends for their incalculable loss.”

19 December 2013


Forum Judicial Review challenging S 48 Review

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum has challenged the legality of the review of the mesothelioma exemption from legal costs by way of Judicial Review. 

To see the Judicial Review letter to Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, click here

7 December 2013

Government refuses any concessions on Mesothelioma Bill

Despite a determined campaign by asbestos victims groups, trade unions, solicitors and some sympathetic Coalition MPs, led by the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, the Government resolutely refused the smallest concession in the debate on amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill on 7 January. Asbestos victims support groups throughout the UK would like to especially thank the hundreds of mesothelioma sufferers and their families who wrote to their MPs, often with heart rending messages, calling for changes to the Bill. The passionate arguments from MPs dedicated to justice for asbestos victims during the debate, led by Kate Green MP for the opposition, were compelling. It is a great discredit to the majority of MPs who, expressing sympathy for mesothelioma sufferers, voted against amendments to improve this Bill which gives so much to the insurance industry and so little to asbestos victims. The fight to redress the balance in favour of mesothelioma sufferers and for all asbestos victims will continue despite this Government's intransigence.

To read the debate click here...

4 December 2013


Government abandons controversial reforms in its consultation 'Reforming mesothelioma claims' but intends to remove the 'Mesothelioma Exemption'.

The Government announced in a ministerial statement on the 4 December that it has abandoned the controversial reforms to the mesothelioma claims process: a mesothelioma pre-action protocol and fixed costs. The Government will consider other improvements to the claims process involving stakeholders. Asbestos victims support groups have welcomed this sensible decision to abandon the consultation reforms which were written by the Association of British Insurers in their interests and contrary to the interests of asbestos victims

But, asbestos victims and their supporters condemn the Government's decision to cite the Mesothelioma Bill as one of the grounds for imposing legal costs on mesothelioma sufferers in the consultation/review required under Section 48 LASPO Act 2012. The Government's subsequent ministerial statement compounds the irrationality of the decision to cite the Mesothelioma Bill in the review.


3 December 2013

Publication of Second Reading debate on the Mesothelioma Bill

 

2nd December House of Commons first debate on the Mesothelioma Bill

On Monday 2nd December MPs will participate in the Second Reading of the Mesothelioma Bill. This is the first opportunity for MPs to discuss the Bill and to express their views on how the Bill might be improved. Hundreds of mesothelioma victims have contacted their MPs to call for changes to the Bill.

To see the Forum press release for Monday 2nd December please click here...


11 November 2013

Mesothelioma Bill Briefing and Pamphlet for MPs


2 October 2013

The last opportunity to submit responses to the Ministry of Justice consultation Reforming Mesothelioma Claims expires on 2 October. The Forum has sent their response with a headline statement:

The consultation betrays a fundamental misconception of the claims process. Preparing evidence for, and sending a letter of claim, initiates a legal process to sue for damages under the tort of negligence. Issuing proceedings is simply a continuum of the claims process.

The distinction between pre-action and issue of proceedings is misleading, as is the suggestion that there is no issue of liability at the onset of the claims process, or that claims are uncontested at the outset. The fact that ultimately there is no defence in many cases, is misleadingly interpreted as ‘liability is not an issue and cases are uncontested.’ and such cases are therefore candidates for a PAP.

This canard lies at the heart of the consultation. The truth is that claims are made in accordance with pre-action procedure, whatever the name of that procedure, and are invariably contested and early liability resisted prior to court proceedings.

The ABI proposals in this consultation paper have nothing to do with speeding up claims. Early liability could be admitted under the existing pre-action process – it is not. The intention is to take control of the claims process by: falsely describing claims as inappropriate for court action and imposing sanctions for doing so; demanding more information to position the defendant to resist claims, and; imposing fixed costs to limit the opportunity for claimants to have fair and expert representation.

Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum

To see the full Forum consultation response click here

To see Minister's response to report of the charities meeting 23 Sept click here

23 September 2013

 
Times article about charities meeting 23 September with Minister Helen Grant on the consultation Reforming Mesothelioma Claims

To see the article click here

Charities attending the meeting included: Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum; British Lung Foundation; Macmillan; June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund; Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund; Mesothelioma UK.
 
The Minister Helen Grant assured all of the charities that she “would not do anything that would not be welcomed by mesothelioma victims and their families”.

20 September 2013


Forum press release in advance of meeting the Minister, Helen Grant on Monday 23 September about the Ministry of Justice consultation: Reforming Mesothelioma Claims

To see the press release click here

25 July 2013

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK asks the British Lung Foundation (BLF) to repudiate the misuse of a draft of the BLF survey of people with mesothelioma.

The ABI sent a report to every Parliamentarian on the eve of the House of Lords debate on the Mesothelioma Bill 17 July 2013 quoting selectively from a draft of the BLF mesothelioma survey to promote their interests.

To see the Forum letter please click here

25 July 2013

The Asbestos Victims support Groups Forum UK formally complains to the MoJ about the consultation because of bias in favour of the ABI agenda which exclusively informed the consultation paper.

To see the Forum complaint please click here

24 July 2013

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) publishes a consultation paper Reforming mesothelioma claims: A consultation on proposals to speed up the settlement of mesothelioma claims in England and Wales.

To see the consultation paper click here

17 July 2013

Peers reject amendments to provide for 100% compensation in the Mesothelioma Bill and to back date payment to February 2010

Despite powerful arguments in favour of full compensation backdated to February 2010 a majority of members of the House of Lords voted down amendments to achieve vital improvements to the Mesothelioma Bill. However, the level of payment was marginally increased from 70% to 75%. The Bill will got to the Commons in the Autumn.

An amendment to provide for an insurers’ funded levy for mesothelioma research was defeated by a small majority.

To read the debate at Report stage click here

11 June 2013

 
Members of the House of Lords completed two days detailed debate on the Mesothelioma Bill in Grand Committee
 
To read the debate on the 5 June click here
 
To read the debate held on the 10 June click here

9 June 2013
 
Debbie BrewerTribute to Debbie Brewer, Mesothelioma Sufferer and campaigner who died 9 June 2013
 
Debbie Brewer who died on the 9 June from mesothelioma fought her disease bravely and campaigned relentlessly on behalf of fellow mesothelioma sufferers. Debbie set up the group Mesothelioma Warriors to wage battle against the dangers and continued use of asbestos and for better mesothelioma treatment and funding for mesothelioma research. Debbie earned the respect and deepest affection of many people both in the UK and internationally, especially her fellow mesothelioma sufferers who described her as “brave, dynamic and an inspiration to all us sufferers” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-22837898)
 
All of the asbestos victims support groups send their sincere condolences to Debbie’s family.

04 June 2013

Mesothelioma sufferers and their families appeal to Lord Freud to change the Mesothelioma Bill
 
To see some of the messages from our on line petition click here
 

To see Sheree Hampshire’s appeal to Lord Freud regarding her late father Charles Hampshire click here

To see some of the many letters sent to us for the attention of Lord Freud calling for 100% compensation and a change to the eligibiility date for a scheme payment click here 

20 May 2013

 
The Mesothelioma Bill which provides for payments to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace their insurers has commenced in the House of Lords.
 
Asbestos victims support groups have called on to government to improve the Bill which provides for payments of 70% compensation instead of 100% and imposes an arbitrary cut off date of 25 July 2012 so that all those diagnosed with mesothelioma before that date are not eligible for a payment.
 

18 May 2013

Master WhitakerSenior Master Whitaker, Royal Courts of Justice QBD answers the Asbestos Victims Support Group's Forum questions about his ground-breaking fast track court procedures for expediting mesothelioma claims
 
 
 
 
10 May2013
 
Restriction on asbestos trade blocked
 
Russia and six allies blocked the listing of chrysotile (white) asbestos as an internationally recognised hazardous substance to the dismay of asbestos campaigners, especially those in developing countries.
 

 

April 8th 2013

Asbestos campaigners call on David Cameron to press for inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on list of dangerous substances
 
Trade unions, doctors and asbestos campaigners have signed a letter from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum calling on David Cameron to take urgent action to prevent vested interests blocking the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on the list of dangerous chemicals and substances. Russia, the largest producer of asbestos and exporter of asbestos to developing countries leads the opposition to inclusion of asbestos on Annex 11 of the Rotterdam Convention. The Rotterdam Convention establishes the right to know about dangerous substances, and the failure to include chrysotile asbestos, a known and dangerous carcinogen, is unforgivable.
 

February 5th 2013

 
Call for Ministers to equalise dependency and in-life lump sum payments
 
Asbesos victims support groups have called on Ministers to honour the committment to equalise dependency and in-life Government lump sum payments. In 2010, the Government reduced the difference in payments and promised, in time, to eliminate the difference altogether. Since that time no further move has been made to end the difference in payments.
 
To see a briefing on the call for action on uprating payments click here

 

November 2012

SIMON PICKVANCE

Simon Pickvance, founder of Workers' Health International Newsletter and pioneering occupational health worker and activist died 23 November 2012.
A tribute by Rory O’Neil, editor, Hazards:
Simon Pickvance, our friend, brilliant colleague and consummate internationalist and networker, died on 23 November 2012. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma two years ago, a consequence of one-time day job as a bricklayer as he developed innovative, worker-oriented occupational health support in primary care. Simon created Workers' Health International Newsletter, which consolidated international information exchange and cooperation between union and health and safety activists and sympathetic medics and scientists worldwide. He was recently made an Emeritus Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini. His work was also recognised in awards from the grassroots Construction Safety Campaign and Hazards Campaign. His earlier work as a molecular biologist was noted in John Sulston’s 2002 Nobel Prize lecture.


5 September 2012

Canada turns its back on asbestos
 
The Parti Quebecois, which has won a slender majority in the recent provincial election, is committed to terminating the $58m loan to revive the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine in Quebec.
 
In another extraordinary turn of events Canada's Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis, has announced that the Canadian Government will no longer oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention.
 
Additionally, Christian Paradis, who has been a staunch supporter of the revival of the Thetford Asbestos Mine in his constituency, has announced that Canada will provide $50m to provide jobs in other industries, ending reliance on asbestos production.
 
This could be the END of asbestos production in Canada.

25 July 2012
Lord Freud announces new scheme for untraced insurance
 
Today, Lord Freud, Minister DWP, announced a scheme to pay compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace their insurers. The scheme will be effective from today but will take about two years for payments to be made. We welcome this first move on untraced insurance but we are bitterley disappointed that the scheme doesn't cover 50% of asbestos victims who are excluded. We are pressing Lord Freud to include all asbestos victims.
 
To see the Forum press release click here...

 

June 2012

Action Mesothelioma Day 2012Action Mesothelioma Day
Friday 6th July 2012

For a list of all UK events click here

 

29 June 2012
 
Quebec Government agrees loan guarantee to re-open the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine
 

The Quebec Government has shocked Canadian public health authorities, asbestos victims and thousands of Canadian citizens with the decision to fund the re-opening of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine against international opposition. This new mine will produce some 5 million tonnes of asbestos over 20 years, most of which will be exported to india.

To see the Forum press release please click here

24th April 2012

 
The Government have given way to pressure from the Lords and agreed to exempt mesothelioma sufferers from paying legal costs
 
Lord Alton championed an amendment in the Lords to exempt asbestos victims from paying legal costs. In the Commons the Government finally gave way when the Lords sent the amendment back twice, exempting mesothelioma sufferers from paying legal costs until a report has been given to the Lord Chancellor assessing the impact of the Bill on mesothelioma sufferers. This is a signifcant concession and asbestos victims support groups would like to especially thank Lord Alton, Lord Avebury, Paul Goggins MP who co-ordinated support in the Commons and all those Peers and MPs of all parties who supported the amendment.
 

28th March 2012

Mesothelioma Sufferers Win Supreme Court Victory
Today, the Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo so that insurers at the time exposure to asbestos occured are responsible for paying compensation. If the Court had agreed with the insurers's case that they only pay compensation when mesothelioma develops, thousands of mesothelioma sufferers would lose compensation because so many employers are no longer trading and there would be no insurer to pay compensation. This case has been dragged through the courts for 6 years and the judgment will at last end a long wait for justice. Sadly, thousands of mesothelioma sufferers have died during that time and never lived to see justice handed down.
 
To see the Forum press release please click here

3rd March 2012 All Party Peers attack gross injustice to asbestos victims in Times letter

 
Six Peers have written to the Times to say that a Government Bill which makes asbestos victims pay up to 25% of their damages for pain and suffering is a "gross in justice".
 
Eighteen Peers have already signed a letter to colleagues calling for support for amendments to prevent this injustice.  
 
 

 

13th February 2012 - 16 Years sentence for 3,000 asbestos deaths in historic Turin Eternit trial
Eternit asbestos cement company magnates, Swiss Stephan Schnidheiny and Belgian Baron De Cartier de Marchienne have been found guilty today in a Turin court of criminal charges of causing wilful and deliberate environmental disaster and wilful and deliberate failure to implement precautions in the work place.
Click here to see Forum press release
For Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial click here

14th December 2011 - Northern Ireland: Pleural Plaques

People suffering from the asbestos-related lung condition pleural plaques will be able to seek compensation from 14th December 2011.

12th December 2011 - Scotland: Pleural Plaques

A Supreme Court decision gives the Scottish Parliament the right to implement the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act 2009 so that pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland may now claim compensation.

December 2011 - HSE Asbestos Campaign Resurrected

The Health and Safety Executive’s award-winning ‘Hidden Killer’ asbestos campaign is to recommence, after being put on hold for over a year on government instruction. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum joined many other organisations lobbying to reinstate the Hidden Killer Campaign. Asbestos victims support groups welcome the reinstatement of the campaign which has the potential to save hundreds of lives.

December 2011 - Lord Alton tables amendments to protect asbestos victims’ compensation

Click here to see the Asbestos Forum’s briefing paper calling for support for Lord Alton’s amendments.

Lords speak up for asbestos victims in second reading of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Bill (LASPO Bill).

Several members of the House of Lords spoke on behalf of asbestos victims in the second reading of the LASPO Bill. Their comments are highlighted in the text of the second reading – click here

 

28 October 2011

 
Six major charities have issued a warning on the effects of the Legal Aid Bill on access to justice
 
For their press release please click here

15 September

Asbestos victims shocked at Conservative MPs behaviour rebuked by Public Bill Committee Chair Jim Sheridan MP Forum Press release click here

9 September
 
Asbestos victims attack legal reforms: Forum Press Release and Guardian article.
 
Forum Press release: click here
Guardian article: click here

6 August

 
The Forum's written evidence to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Bill, Public Bill Committee can be found by clicking here..

2nd August

Support groups ask mesothelioma sufferers and their families for their comments on the draft Bill
 
If you or your family have sought compensation for mesothelioma we would be very grateful if you would please complete a short questionnaire about what the proposed changes in the draft Bill affecting compensation would have had on your decision to claim compensation. Please email your response or send it to us. Thank you.

You can see our letter and questionnaire if you click here.....

Or click here to complete and send it online

To read some comments by mesothelioma sufferers and their families on completed survey forms please click here...



19th July
Asbestos victims welcome MPs concern about new Bill
 
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum wrote to MPs who expressed their concerns about the Legal Aid Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Bill. The Bill affects access to Legal Aid and also has a serious impact on compensation paid to asbestos victims who have no access to Legal Aid.
 
To read the letter please click here

Action Mesothelioma Day Friday 1st July 2011

Click here to read the Press Release for Action Mesolthelioma Day 2011

For more information please click here...

For a report on all the AMD events please click here...


June 2011 EU Call for Sanctions on Canada
For European Federation of Building and Woodworkers and the Inetrnational Ban Asbestos Secretariat press release click here...

21st June 2011
Government Bill hits compensation
The Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill contains provisions to make personal injury claimants bear legal costs which are currently borne by the losing party. This means that sufferers of asbestos diseases will have to pay legal costs out of their compensation. This will have a serious impact on access to justice because may people will be deterred from making a claim. We will be joining with other organisations to campaign against the provisions of this Bill. 

To access our press release click here

To access the Bill click here


15th April
Quebec Government agrees in principle to fund the expansion of the Jeffrey asbestos mine
The government of Quebec has decided to ignore the pleas of human rights advocates, hundreds of public health experts worldwide and one of the province's largest unions and says it will fund the expansion of Canada's last asbestos mine.
http://www.sherbrookerecord.com/content/view/611910/27/


20th April
Scottish and Northern Ireland Pleural Plaques cases to go to the Supreme Court:
The Scottish Court of Sessions has upheld the Scottish Parliament’s right to enact legislation to pay pleural plaques sufferers. However, the case is to be appealed by the insurers to the Supreme Court.

The Northern Ireland Attorney General has referred the Assembly’s legislation to pay pleural plaques sufferers to the Supreme Court.

March 2011

Landmark Supreme Court Judgment on low exposure to asbestos
On the 9th March, the Supreme Court upheld the judgments of the High Court and Court of Appeal in favour of Diane Wilmore and Enid Costello who died from mesothelioma due to low exposures to asbestos. The Supreme Court ruled that the current test that only requires a 'material risk of developing mesothelioma' should stand in such cases. For the Forum press release click here...

 

March 2011

Landmark Supreme Court Judgment on low exposure to asbestos
On the 9th March, the Supreme Court upheld the judgments of the High Court and Court of Appeal in favour of Diane Wilmore and Enid Costello who died from mesothelioma due to low exposures to asbestos. The Supreme Court ruled that the current test that only requires a 'material risk of developing mesothelioma' should stand in such cases. For the Forum press release click here...

December 2010...

MPs and delegation hand in letter to Prime Minister click here

The Lancet exposes Quebec's hypocrisy - click here

Pictures of the London protest 9th Dec -click here

Asian Delegation Press Release  click here

The Asian Delegation Speaks to the World  click here

India: Ex-Asbestos miners' hunger strike to demand disclosure of medical records   click here

9th December Quebec Jeffrey Asbestos Mine Protest
A protest will be held outside Canada House, London, and in many other capital cities, on the 9th December, to coincide with an Asian delegation to Quebec to protest at the planned expansion of the Quebec Jeffrey asbestos mine.

For information see the flyer.....link

LATEST - OCTOBER 8TH 2010

Disastrous Court of Appeal "Tigger Case" Decision
The Court of Appeal handed down a judgment on the 8th October which allows insurers to argue that their insurance premium is only triggered at the time a mesothelioma sufferer develops the disease. This will rob compensation from thousands of asbestos victims and create huge uncertainty and distress for all.

Our Press Release can be found here


Remembering Nancy Tait MBE Hon DUniv
Obituary



Michael Lees receives prestigous awards for his work on asbestos in schools  view here


Latest News and Important Events
July 1st Canada Day of Shame Protest

A protest was held on Canada Day, 1st July, to shame Canada for its continued export of asbestos to developing countries, and especially for the Quebec government’s proposed loan guarantee of $58 million for a new asbestos mine, the Jeffrey mine, which will produce more than 200,000 tonnes of asbestos a year for the next 25 to 50 years.
In the meantime, the Canadian Government is assisting the opening of the Jeffrey mine for one month to attract international investment and it is understood that UK and Indian companies are interested in visiting the mine. A joint press release has been issued condemining any investment in the Jeffrey mine.

Canada Day Protest Press Release . . . . view here

Photo of Canada Day Protest ..... view here

Joint Press Release ......  view here


Forum Tribute to Michael Clapham MP view here


Pleural Plaques

The Coalition Government has honoured the Labour Government's committment to pay £5000 to pleural plaques sufferers who had made a claim for compensation prior to the Law Lord's ruling on the 17th October 2007. This is an extra statutory payment and no charge should be made by any solicitor for providing evidence that a claim had been registered prior to the 17th October 2007. We would urge anyone who has been charged by a solicitor to contact us.

For details on who is eligible for a payment please click here

Click here for more details about the campaign.


10th February, 2010 _ Government to set up an Insurance Fund of Last Resort

The government has announced a consultation on setting up a fund of last resort for injured workers who cannot trace their employers' liability insurers. This consultation is immensley important. . . . . more


The Health and Safety Executive launch a new £1.2million Asbestos: Hidden Killer campaign

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a campaign to warn maintenance workers of the dangers of asbestos in buildings today.
The campaign aims to aims to raise awareness of the risks posed by asbestos and how workers can protect themselves.
Across Britain, around 20 tradesmen die from asbestos diseases every week and the numbers are increasing. Workers most at risk of exposure to asbestos are those most likely to disturb or damage it such as plumbers, joiners and electricians.

Mike Cross, HSE’s North West Head of Construction, said: “Asbestos is Britain’s biggest industrial killer . . . . Contrary to what many people believe, the risks are not a thing of the past. Asbestos-related illnesses claim the lives of 4,000 people every year — more than die in road accidents.

For information about the campaign go to:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/hiddenkiller/index.htm

For information about essential precautions to prevent exposure to asbestos at work go to:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/essentials/index.htm


Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit . . . The case for disregard

It seems utterly perverse that asbestos victims in receipt of IIDB, dying from mesothelioma, should have their means-tested benefits cut for the short period of their remaining lives.
The Asbestos Victim Support Groups Forum have produced a booklet putting the case for a disregard of IIDB in respect of means-tested benefits. To read the booklet . . . view .


February 2009_Government Allows T&N Claimants to Keep Lump Sum Payments

The government has announced that it will now allow T&N claimants to keep lump sum payments as well as the small payments from the T&N Funds. This welcome decision was announced on the 13th February. . . . more


February 2009_Call for government funding for mesothelioma research centre.

Mesothelioma sufferers will gather on Friday, February 27 to call for the government to invest millions in research to treat the devastating asbestos related disease, Mesothelioma is the least researched of the top twenty cancers.....
For the Forum Press Release please . . . click here


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