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.
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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.
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.
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
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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