ISSN 1470-8108 Issue 66 Spring 2007

Contents:

1. The Asbestos Plague
2. Radical Changes to UK Mesothelioma Compensation?
3. Legal Precedent for UK Dockers!
4. News Round-Up

1. The Asbestos Plague

Every five hours, a person dies from mesothelioma in the UK. This aggressive form of asbestos cancer was once a rare disease; nowadays, it is killing nearly 2,000 people a year and experts predict that in the coming decades there could be up to 200,000 UK asbestos deaths.1 Even though mesothelioma is Britain's biggest workplace killer, claiming more lives than road traffic accidents, public awareness remains low. A recent parliamentary motion pointed out that “37 percent of the British public are unaware that exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and that 65 percent have never heard of mesothelioma.”2

On February 27, 2007, asbestos victims groups, in collaboration with public health campaigners, trade unions and NGOs, held the 2nd National Action Mesothelioma Day; meetings, rallies, balloon releases and memorial services took place in regional asbestos hotspots3 with an event being hosted in Westminster by MP David Hamilton, a member of the House of Commons All Party Asbestos Sub-Committee.4 To compliment these activities, an 8 minute video clip entitled Mesothelioma – The Human Face of an Asbestos Epidemic was shown on BBC city-center TV screens throughout February 27. This striking and dramatic video can be viewed by accessing YouTube;5 more visual material gathered by Jason Addy and the production team from Calderdale TV can be accessed on another website, 6 while an Action Mesothelioma Day podcast can be heard on another.7 Copies of this video material can be obtained from the Forum of Asbestos Victims Support Groups.8

To mark Action Mesothelioma Day, Health Minister Rosie Winterton announced the publication of a National Mesothelioma Framework9 at an event held on Gateshead Millennium Bridge organized by the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, an asbestos victims' support group in Newcastle. The Minister said:

“Mesothelioma can be a challenging condition for the NHS to diagnose and manage, especially as the number of cases varies around the country so that, in some areas, it is a rare condition.

It is important that we work to improve quality of care to a uniformly high level across the country. With a potential peak of cases less then 10 years away, we have a window of opportunity now to ensure that the NHS has done all it can to provide a high quality service for all mesothelioma patients.”

The 53-page Framework, which was developed by the Department of Health in collaboration with its Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Advisory Group and the British Thoracic Society, covers a range of issues including diagnosis, treatment, supportive and palliative care, the role of clinical nurse specialists, research, information, benefits and compensation. The recommendations contained in this voluntary service guidance for the National Health Service (NHS) are intended to improve the quality of care and outcomes for all UK patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. In his introduction, Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, highlighted the aggressiveness of the disease and pointed out that:

“It is imperative that mesothelioma patients should be diagnosed as early as possible, offered radical treatment where this is appropriate, have access to optimal palliative interventions and care and be offered appropriate information and advice including on financial benefits and possible compensation.”

Throughout the text, there are multiple references to quality of life issues and symptom control:

  • point 8.d discusses: “quality of life issues which could benefit from a range of specialist advice, for example, on symptom control”;

  • under the heading Survival, the document notes: “with earlier detection and improved services it could be possible to extend and improve the quality of life of mesothelioma patients”;

  • a paragraph in the Supportive and Palliative Care section says: “Patients with mesothelioma frequently suffer distressing symptoms. These may include breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue and weight loss. Intractable pain in particular is a key issue… palliative care and symptom control should be central to any management plan for mesothelioma patients”;

  • under recommendations, the framework includes: “Patient choice should be taken into account when individual treatment options are being considered.”

Despite the rhetoric and pledges to ease patients' suffering, exactly one month after the Mesothelioma Framework was published, the withdrawal of the only drug licensed for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) by the NHS drew ever closer when the Appraisal Committee of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued an interim ruling against the continued use of pemetrexed disodium (Alimta):10

“the Committee was not persuaded that the evidence provided a robust demonstration of both clinical and cost effectiveness of pemetrexed plus cisplatin in comparison to the other treatment regimens for MPM. The Committee, therefore, could not recommend pemetrexed disodium as a treatment option for malignant pleural mesothelioma.”11

Alimta is not a cure for MPM, but clinical trials have shown it to be effective in prolonging life and alleviating distressing symptoms. Treatment with Alimta and cisplatin is regarded as the “gold-standard” with a significantly better response rate than chemotherapy with gemcitabine and cisplatin or cisplatin on its own. Whereas in England, the availability of Alimta is subject to a post-code lottery, in Scotland all eligible mesothelioma patients have access to it due to a ruling by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). Should NICE uphold the Committee's interim decision, Alimta will become an “off license” drug for the purposes of NHS treatment throughout the UK; this will give Primary Care Trusts grounds to refuse prescribing the drug, estimated to cost between 6,400-9,300 per patient.12 In those circumstances, the majority of patients will be refused access to Alimta; only those with private resources will be able to obtain the drug.13 A negative decision by NICE could supersede the SMC's advice and also force withdrawal of the drug in Scotland.

In Early Day Motion 2848: Mesothelioma and Access to Alimta, 82 Members of Parliament called on the Secretary of State for Health “to acknowledge that, in this case, she has a wider social responsibility that goes beyond the NICE definition of cost-effectiveness.”14 This EDM was laid before Parliament on October 24, 2006, a week after 40+ MPs attended a crowded Parliamentary lobby which heard calls from mesothelioma sufferers, family members, specialist medical personnel, victim support representatives and trade unionists for the Government to ensure the availability of Alimta for all eligible mesothelioma sufferers in the UK. On October 30, 2006, the Public Petition Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard representations made in support of the Mesothelioma (Prescribing) Petition (PE1006) by Bob Dickie, speaking on behalf of the Clydebank Asbestos Group, Clydeside Action on Asbestos and Asbestos Action (Tayside).15 Mr. Dickie said:

“Alimta is the only drug that is available to men and women who suffer from mesothelioma, and we feel that the decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium is in the best interests of those victims… We consider that the drug should remain freely available to all victims in Scotland, through the national health service… We also consider that the decision that was taken by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should have no impact in Scotland. After all, we have a devolved national health service.”

Tommy Gorman echoed Mr. Dickie's sentiments adding: “The withdrawal of Alimta in Scotland would introduce a democratic deficit. Health is a devolved matter, so any decision should be made in Scotland by the people we elect to the Scottish Parliament to make such decisions.” A point previously unmentioned was covered by Des McNulty, the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Clydebank and Milngavie, who referred to the economic impact on drug research of the aggressive nature of mesothelioma:

“(Mesothelioma) is also a non-curable cancer: in essence, if someone contracts mesothelioma, they die. Given that and the short life span of sufferers, drug companies have little incentive to invest in drugs for mesothelioma. Those factors militate against a drug being licensed under the existing criteria for drug assessment. Mesothelioma sufferers find themselves in a double bind. First, there is the issue of cost effectiveness. Secondly, if the signal goes out that Alimta will not be licensed, or that it has had its license withdrawn, it is unlikely that another company will invest in research.”

The fact that globally the majority of those contracting mesothelioma were occupationally exposed to asbestos received widespread recognition during events held on International Workers' Memorial Day in 2006 (IWMD; April 28); the urgent need for a worldwide asbestos ban was one of the main themes of union activities which took place on that day in scores of countries. As the main theme of IWMD 2007 is occupational cancer, the asbestos scourge will, once again, be a high priority. A document entitled: Occupational Cancer/Zero Cancer: A Union Guide To Prevention, produced in English, French, Spanish and Russian by the International Metalworkers' Federation in collaboration with the 10 sector-based global union federations and the International Trade Union Confederation, is a valuable resource.16 Placing asbestos within the context of other occupational cancers it states:

“at least one in every 10 cancers – and probably many more – is the result of preventable, predictable workplace exposures. Asbestos is the biggest industrial killer of all time, and kills thousands from cancer every single week, at least one death every five minutes. But it is not banned worldwide…

Unions are challenging workplace cancer risks. Asbestos bans are spreading, despite a cash-rich rearguard public relations offensive by the asbestos industry. Unions have won recognition of the causes of occupational cancer, restrictions on their use and compensation for their victims. Prevention, though, is the only cure. That's why, through advice, training and union action at workplace, national and international levels, this campaign intends to ensure workplace ill-health is not the forgotten item on the cost-benefit ledger. Work should provide a living, not a cause of death.”

On April 28, 2007, asbestos victims' groups, NGOs and others will be issuing demands for an end to the international asbestos trade. At demonstrations in front of the Canadian Embassy, Washington D.C. and Canada House, London a petition, supported by groups from all over the world, will be distributed condemning Canada's leadership of and support for the asbestos global lobby. The text of this document is to be found on the last page of this newsletter.

2. Radical Changes to UK Mesothelioma Compensation?

On March 13, 2007, the Department for Work and Pensions convened a Mesothelioma Summit in London to extend consultation on the Government's proposals to improve claims handling for mesothelioma cases.17 Over a hundred asbestos specialists from victim support groups, trade unions, NGOs, law firms, the Courts, the civil service and the insurance industry took part in plenary sessions and break-out groups. Welcoming delegates to the meeting, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the Rt Hon John Hutton summarized progress made since the Government's announcement in 2006 that procedures for mesothelioma compensation would be streamlined. Hutton spoke knowledgably about the impact mesothelioma has had on his Barrow-in-Furness constituency, the area with the UK's highest incidence of male mesothelioma. A sensible way forward was needed to minimize procedurally caused distress and speed up receipt of benefits, the Minister said. Actions taken to circumvent bureaucratic blockages include the:

  • Compensation Act 2006, which holds all negligent employers jointly and severally liable;

  • implementation in July 2006 of a new protocol by HM Revenue and Customs for tracing employers' records in 10 working days as compared to up to 30 days previously;

  • Compensation Act (Contribution for Mesothelioma Claims) Regulations 2006 under which the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will repay sums advanced by a company or insurer to a mesothelioma claimant in circumstances where contributions from other tortfeasors is not forthcoming;18

  • implementation of an improved ABI19 insurance tracing scheme; since February 2007, a dedicated member of staff has been dealing with enquiries under a more stringent time table;

  • introduction of a new pre-action mesothelioma protocol for civil actions which will speed up claims handling through faster information exchange, earlier admissions of liability, strict deadlines, expedited payment of compensation awards and interim payments once liability and causation have been established.

Improvements requiring further legislation will be introduced as part of stage two and will include the provision of up-front financial support under the Pneumoconiosis Etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 197920 which should, by 2008, be available to all mesothelioma victims including those, currently barred from claiming, whose exposure was non-occupational, such as wives or children exposed to asbestos-contaminated work clothes, self-employed workers and people whose exposure was environmental such as those who lived near asbestos-consuming factories. No details are available about the amounts which will be paid to different categories of mesothelioma victims although it is indicated that, for the time being those with occupational asbestos exposure will continue to receive more than others. The additional funds required to expand this scheme will be provided by new measures to recover payments under the 1979 Act from compensation paid by negligent defendants under the “polluter pays” principle. Responding to an ABI warning that the annual recoupment by the Government of 14 million pounds from the insurance industry could lead to higher premiums, Ian McFall, Head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons Solicitors, pointed out that the mesothelioma windfall enjoyed by insurers from 1999 to 2007 was morally and legally indefensible. He explained:

“During this time insurers were able to deduct state benefit payments from claimants' awards without having to repay that sum to the Government. The proposal to close the loophole which has seen ordinary taxpayers subsidizing insurance companies is welcomed.”21

The reaction of MPs, trade unionists and representatives of asbestos victims groups to the government's initiatives was, on the whole, positive. John Battle, MP for Leeds West, an area with a high incidence of asbestos-related disease stemming from decades of asbestos textile manufacture, said:

“It is very good news that the Government has today committed to speeding up compensation for sufferers of mesothelioma. In Armley, my constituency, I have campaigned for compensation for all mesothelioma sufferers for over 20 years. As the local epidemic of asbestos-related disease and mortality has grown, those who polluted the community have used every trick and legal loophole to avoid their legal and moral responsibilities. I am pleased that the Government has now stepped into the breach to remedy the unfair situation in which the asbestos victims now find themselves.”

Paul Rowen, MP for Rochdale, another asbestos-affected constituency, highlighted the significance these changes could have for local residents, many of whom were exposed to Turner Brothers' asbestos:

“Those who developed the asbestos cancer mesothelioma as a result of the domestic washing of work clothes were often denied government industrial disease pensions and compensation. It seems the work of a 'mere housewife' wasn't classed as performing an economic benefit even though the unpaid domestic work has sometimes carried a death sentence. Today's promise by DWP Minister John Hutton recognises the past injustice to so many asbestos cancer victims and importantly puts those on notice who are responsible for the lives of future generations to be more vigilant and ensure that exposure to significant amounts of asbestos fibres should not happen.”22

An Early Day Motion Compensation for People Suffering from Mesothelioma23 backed the proposals for expanding eligibility to state benefits to all mesothelioma sufferers and called on the Government “to implement speedily the necessary legislation to make these proposals a reality.” Also supportive was Fergis Whitty, from the Transport & General Workers' Union, who said:

“We want to see immediate lump sum payments of compensation rather than a weekly amount that is paid to sufferers of this disease…It is most important that there is adequate prevention against the dangers of asbestos dust, to stop people contracting this fatal disease in the first place.”

Delegates at the Mesothelioma Summit, many of whom represented sufferers, greeted the proposals with some reserve, explaining that much remains unsaid. Issues still unresolved include: the discrepancy between live vs. dependent claims, continuing difficulty in accessing information on insurance providers, reluctance of consultants to diagnose mesothelioma, lack of medical expertise in non-asbestos hotspots, impact of compensation payments on means-tested benefits which acts as a disincentive for the poorest people in society to make a claim, unfairness to former service personnel who would be excluded from the expansion of government compensation for mesothelioma due to the Crown Immunity Act and failure to improve the system for sufferers from asbestos-related lung cancer. Tony Whitston, Chair of the Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups, expressed concern at:

“the unintended consequences of the proposed mesothelioma pre-action protocol which will be to slow down claims, especially for living mesothelioma claimants. We would especially like to see insurers assist the Government in equalising in-life and posthumous Workers Compensation Act payments by donating some of the millions of pounds wrongly credited to them from Workers Compensation Act payments for so many years. We hope that the impetus for improvements for mesothelioma sufferers will continue and realise the changes which the Forum has proposed to improve compensation for mesothelioma sufferers and their families.”

3. Legal Precedent for UK Dockers!

A unanimous verdict of three Court of Appeal Justices in the case of Rice and Thompson v the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry upheld the right of dockers to sue the government for occupational asbestos exposures which occurred in Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s under the auspices of the National Dock Labour Board (NDLB).24 In the decision handed down on April 4, 2007, Lord Justice May found that:

“foreseeability is no longer in issue; that the relationship was that of employer and employee, although in a hybrid sense; that one part of the policy of the statutory relationship was that the NDLB should make satisfactory provision for the dock workers' health; and that the NDLB must be taken to have known that the Clan Line took no precautions to guard against the risk to the health of dock workers unloading asbestos in hessian sacks.”25

The test case was brought on behalf of former docker Robert Thompson, who has contracted an asbestos-related illness, and the widow of docker Edward Rice, who died of mesothelioma aged 67 in 2000. As the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is the statutory successor to the NDLB, many asbestos-injured workers whose illnesses are due to hazardous exposures by defunct shipping lines or stevedoring companies operating out of the Liverpool and some other docks can now bring actions against the DTI.26

The working conditions at the Liverpool docks were described in some detail by Lord Justice May:

“The way in which the local board in Liverpool performed its functions in practice were as follows. Registered dock workers were required to attend for allocation of work at 8 a.m. each day, and again at 2 p.m. if they had not been allocated at 8 a.m. They were herded into pens which were locked… Each of the claimants was from time to time allocated to Clan Line to unload cargoes of asbestos in hessian sacks … It is not suggested that a dock worker allocated to Clan Line to unload asbestos had any real choice whether to do that work, if he wished to remain employed as a registered dock worker.”

Plaintiff Robert Francis Thompson confirms May's description:

“The dock labour board put us in a pen like cattle, we were picked out and sent to unload the asbestos from the ships. If we refused, we were sacked. The asbestos was floating around everywhere. The dock labour board must have known they were sending us into danger.” 27

The Court of Appeal was categorical in finding both the Clan Line and the NDLB negligent:

“The Clan Line took no significant precautions to protect the claimants from injury by breathing in asbestos dust… The workers were not provided with breathing masks. No steps were taken to see that asbestos was packed in less permeable bags or containers…there were steps which the NDLB or local board could and should have taken to reduce the claimants' exposure to asbestos dust and they were in breach of duty not to do so… There should, for instance, have been training directed to the risks of breathing in asbestos; training to encourage or require the use of suitable breathing masks. Steps should have been taken to require Clan Line to have the asbestos packed in impermeable containers; and so forth. In short, doing nothing was a breach of duty.”

Until the May 2006 High Court judgment, former dockers with asbestos illnesses had faced almost insurmountable difficulties pursuing compensation claims because of problems identifying the firms responsible for their hazardous exposures. They had routinely worked for different ship owning and stevedoring companies, many of which are now insolvent or have ceased to exist; during the intervening decades, company records have been lost, which makes the tracing of crucial insurance policies problematic. Expressing her husband's sense of frustration, Winifred Rice noted:

“The last thing Edward said before he died was that I had to go on with the case. It's so important that someone takes responsibility for what happened to him – all we wanted was for the dock board to hold their hands up and admit that they should have protected him.”

The DTI has until April 17, 200728 to file an application for permission to appeal this judgment to the House of Lords. If the ruling stands, it will have implications for hundreds of other dockers who worked in Liverpool and other ports where similar schemes operated.

4. News Round-Up

Investigation of the Chrysotile Fibres in an Asbestos Cement Sample29

The report (HSL/2007/11) by the Health and Safety Laboratory concludes that:

“The fibres found from a well-characterised asbestos cement sample showed that both the bulk and air samples had the same morphology as a reference standard of chrysotile asbestos…The analysis carried out showed that the samples contained fibres of chrysotile asbestos and released chrysotile asbestos fibres to air when substantially disturbed. There is no evidence that any chemical or structural alteration changes have occurred to the majority of chrysotile fibres since they were added to the cement…

The claims being made to HSE and in internet articles and in some sections of the newspaper industry could not be reproduced and the majority of chrysotile fibres in asbestos cement are unchanged and retain their hazard.”

Hazardous Workplaces in Somerset

The Royal Ordnance Factory and Hinckley Point Power Station in Sedgemoor, Somerset, were named as sites at which fatal asbestos exposures had taken place by West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose during the January 2007 inquest into the mesothelioma death of 72 year-old Victor Deane, a former Royal Marine. At the Taunton hearing, the Coroner said that he now hears 14 mesothelioma cases a year. 30

Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) (Amendment) Regulations 2007/ T&N Claims

Under this legislation,31 which came into force on March 12, 2007, the Compensation Recovery Unit will not clawback compensation paid to T&N claimants suffering from asbestos-related diseases by the UK Asbestos Trust (established October 10, 2006) or the EL Scheme Trust (established November 23, 2006). As of April 3, 2007, the UK (T&N) Asbestos Trustee had received 147 claims, excluding those for pleural plaques which remain frozen pending a forthcoming decision by the House of Lords. Acceptance notices for 44 claims, totalling 1.274m have been issued;32 11 claims have been rejected. Twenty-five payments will be dispensed on April 16, 2007, with a further 19 payments on April 27, 2007.33

Regulation 20(4) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (CAWR 2006)

On April 6, 2007, provisions of this section of the CAWR 2006 legislation become mandatory;34 they stipulate that anyone certifying the safety of premises following licensable asbestos work must be duly authorized by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service:

“to perform work in compliance with the paragraphs of ISO 17020 and ISO 17025 which cover organisation, quality systems, control of records, personnel, accommodation and environmental conditions, test and calibration methods, method validation, equipment, handling of test and calibration items, and reporting results.”35

UK Campaign Launched

On April 16, 2007, Thompsons Solicitors launched a national campaign to highlight the inequity in asbestos payouts received by families in the UK:

“In England and Wales the level of compensation is set at 10,000 by law36 and is only payable to the spouse but over the border in Scotland payments up to 30,000 have been made to bereaved widows. Not only widows but other family members in Scotland can also receive compensation of between 10,000 to 15,000.”

Asbestos Diseases: The Community Response

An asbestos event will be taking place on May 12, 2007 in Barrow Town Hall; the afternoon session is being organized by Barrow Asbestos-Related Disease Support (BARDS) and will feature presentations by speakers from Australia, Scotland and England including Dr. Gregory Deleuil, the Medical Adviser to the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia. For more information contact Pam or Sandra at St. Mary's Hospice tel: 01229 580305.

Conference: Asbestos & the Law

This CPD Law Society accredited conference will be held in Liverpool on June 19, 2007 by the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group; speakers include: Barristers Matthew Philips & Andrew McDonald, Solicitor Martin Bare, Nursing Specialist Charlotte Wells, Forensic Accountant Michael Swift and others. For more information contact John Flanagan at: 0151 236 1895 or by email: gfr15@dial.pipex.com

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1 Cook E. 200,000 Will Die in Asbestos Timebomb. February 21, 2007. The Mirror.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/tm_method=full%26objectid=18651275%26siteid=89520-name_page.html
As with all asbestos statistics, there are no universally agreed data. While some estimates predict 200,000 future asbestos-related deaths in the UK, others put the figure at 30,000 - 120,000. In 2004, there were 1,834 newly diagnosed cases of mesothelioma registered in England; the areas with the highest Standard Mortality Ratios from 1981-2000 for men and women respectively were: Barrow-in-Furness, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Barking & Dagenham, Sunderland, Blackburn.

2 Early Day Motion (EDM) 1064. Action Mesothelioma 2007 Campaign. March 7, 2007.
http://edmi.parliament.uk/

3 AMD events took place in: Barking, Chesterfield, Crewe, Doncaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Rochester, Rotherham and Sheffield.

4 http://www.ibas.btinternet.co.uk/Frames/f_lka_uk_asb_plague.htm

5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLTDknLVm4A

6 http://www.ActionMeso.info

7 http://www.spodden-valley.co.uk/mesothelioma/TonyRobinsonAMDaudio.wma

8 Requests by email to: asbestos.gmavsg@virgin.net

9 http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/14/32/78/04143278.pdf

10 Pemetrexed disodium (Alimta) is the first line of treatment for mesothelioma in the United States, Australia and many European countries; in December 2004, it became the UK's first licensed chemotherapy treatment for MPM, in combination with cisplatin. Despite NICE's interim guidance, Primary Care Trusts can, pending the final decision (Autumn 2007), still make Alimta available to NHS patients under the Health Service Circular 1999/176.

11 Appraisal Consultation Document. Pemetrexed Disodium for the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. March 2007. http://www.nice.org.uk/

12 Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturers of Alimta, estimated that full Alimta access in 2005/6 would have cost less than 2.7 million; by 2009/10 the budget impact would rise to 5.2m.

13 Currently, a mesothelioma patient can, when denied Alimta treatment by the NHS, pay for it out of private funds and add the cost for treatment to their civil claim.

14 EDM 2848: Mesothelioma and Access to Alimta. October 24, 2006

15 http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/petitions/or-06/pu06-1702.htm#Col2839

16 http://www.hazards.org/cancer/preventionkit

17 http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2007/iidb/mesothelioma-cases-consultation-report.pdf

18 Kazan-Allen L. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. British Asbestos Newsletter 65. Winter 2006-07.

19 ABI: Association of British Insurers

20 According to a statement made by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin to the House of Lords on February 27, 2007, lump sum payments for mesothelioma made under The 1979 Act in 2006 averaged 14,000.

21 Hesketh A. Mesothelioma Claims Fear. March 15, 2007. The Magazine.
http://www.instimes.co.uk/news/articledetail.asp?id=44912

22 Asbestos Campaigner Says Vindication of Rowen Questions. March 13, 2007.
http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/News/spodden_news.asp?ID=3016

23 EDM 1177: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=32934&SESSION=885

24 Established in 1944, the purpose of the NDLB was to “ensure greater regularity of employment for dock workers and … to keep the docks working in the aftermath of the war by ensuring that an adequate number of dock workers was available.” The NDLB was abolished in 1967.

25 Winifred Rice [Widow and Executrix of the estate of Edward Rice, deceased] v. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Stuntbrand Line Limited and Robert Francis Thompson v. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Stuntbrand Line Limited, No. [2006]. EWHC 1257. http://www.thegovernmentsays.com/cache/90267.html

26 Ports where Labor Boards operated in a similar fashion to the NDLB Scheme in Liverpool were Glasgow, Southampton and Hull.

27 News release: Government Challenges Dockers' Asbestos Ruling, January 26, 2007. John Pickering and Partners.

28 As of April 17, 2007, there had been no notification that an application to appeal had been lodged.

29 http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/hsl_pdf/2007/hsl0711.pdf

30 Angear S. Asbestos Deaths on the Up – Coroner. Bridgwater Mercury. January 26, 2007.
http://archive.falmouthpacket.co.uk/2007/1/26/79199.html

31 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si2007/20070357.htm

32 This represents an average payment of 28,954.51.

33 Email from Neil Griffiths, Solicitor for Denton Wilde Sapte LLP, to Laurie Kazan-Allen. April 3, 2007. In an email received on April 19, 2007, a spokesperson for the administrators confirmed that a total of 690,000 had been paid out during the week on 24 claims.; a solicitor in the North of England confirmed receipt of payments for 6 clients.

34 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si2006/20062739.htm

35 Press release: HSE Issues a Reminder to the Asbestos Licensed Industry. April 13, 2007. www.gnn.gov.uk

36 In England and Wales the amount of compensation to bereaved spouses is specified as 10,000 by the Fatal Accidents Act 1976; in Scotland the amount paid in bereavement benefits is decided by the courts; compensation can be paid to children, siblings, grandchildren, parents and common-law partners with some payouts to widows reaching 50,000.

________________________

 
“The truth is on the march and nothing can stop it.” – Émile Zola

J'Accuse…!

 
LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

April 28, 2007

Mr. Prime Minister Stephen Harper -

Canada stands accused of crimes against humanity for its complicity in the global trade in the world's deadliest industrial toxin: asbestos.

The cost of Canada's soul has been high. Over the last 100 years, the export of Canada's killer dust has earned the country billions of dollars and caused the unacknowledged deaths of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who worked in or lived near the mines not to mention the collateral damage to family members contaminated by exposure to asbestos-contaminated work clothes.

Once sent abroad, the death toll has been even higher as fatal exposures occurred at every point in the chain of production. No one is immune to the potential damage posed by this global killer: stevedores, dockyard workers, truckers, insulators, construction workers, housewives, plumbers, teachers, textile workers, doctors, electricians and others have paid the price for their countries' use of asbestos.

As one of the world's biggest suppliers of asbestos, Canada engaged in the premeditated murder of innocent men and women all over the world. Abusing its global reputation as a progressive democracy, Canada bullied international agencies and national governments, lied to multilateral institutions, vetoed attempts to protect humanity and actively engaged with asbestos commercial interests to protect global markets for a substance acknowledged to be carcinogenic with the full knowledge of the human and environmental consequences of doing so.

We accuse you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your predecessors of mass murder for continuing your country's pro-asbestos policy;

We accuse you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your predecessors, of abandoning the asbestos-affected communities in the Canadian mining regions where environmental pollution is killing record numbers of local residents;

We accuse you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your predecessors of putting national politics and greed before human life.

On International Workers Memorial Day, as we remember the dead and fight for the living, the Maple Leaf stands indelibly tarnished; Mr. Prime Minister, you have blood on your hands.

___________

Compiled by Laurie Kazan-Allen
ÓJerome Consultants