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Rejection Of Asbestos Research Levy ‘Another Missed Opportunity’

Experts Reveal Disappointment As Mesothelioma Bill Amendment Is Defeated


By Helen MacGregor

Asbestos-related disease lawyers have described the failed bid to fund medical research into the impact of the material through a levy on insurers as a “missed opportunity” to take a strong step forward on the issue.

Lord Alton of Liverpool proposed an amendment to the Mesothelioma Bill which is currently going through Parliament and would have seen a levy of up to one per cent placed on the industry which would raise funds to investigate treatments for those exposed to asbestos.

However, the change was defeated by a majority of seven, with 199 votes to 192. Lord Alton said it would be a “scandal” if the Government did not take the opportunity to help those affected by asbestos-related conditions including the cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma.

Irwin Mitchell’s Asbestos-Related Disease team specialise in helping victims who have developed mesothelioma and other illnesses as a result of exposure to the material, as well as the families of those who have died as a result of such problems, to gain justice over the problems they have suffered.

The team also provide administration services for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund on a pro bono basis.

Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Despite the terrible, tragic impact that asbestos has on so many lives, it remains incredibly disappointing that research into potential treatments has been hampered by a lack of funding.

“Such investigations could prove so vital in addressing the awful consequences of exposure to the material and this proposal for the introduction of a levy could have played a vital role. This, like other aspects of the Mesothelioma Bill, simply feels very much like a missed opportunity.”

Discussing the bill in general, Adrian added: “Since details of it were announced, we have had significant concerns that the plans do not go far enough in providing vital support to sufferers of mesothelioma.

“While it is designed to offer compensation to victims who cannot trace an employer’s insurer, the time limit which means only those diagnosed after July 25th 2012 can apply for help will prevent a huge number of sufferers from getting access to the justice they deserve.

“In addition, limiting the scheme to just sufferers of mesothelioma means a huge number of victims who have suffered other conditions after asbestos exposure have been ignored.

“The Government’s effort to address this issue has to be welcomed, but we are very concerned that they are failing to ensure they are getting these measures right first time.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to mesothelioma claims