Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Fear over asbestos compensation

Victims of an asbestos-related disease may miss out on compensation, it has been claimed.

A solicitor representing dozens of people in Oxfordshire said he was worried a new bill to compensate those with pleural plaque may not become law.

The condition can be a forerunner of asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Peter Lodge said claimants would be "left in limbo" as a second reading of the bill in the House of Lords would be unlikely before the next election.

People suffering from pleural plaque lost their automatic right to compensation in 2007 following a ruling by the House of Lords.

'Nominal amount'

Pleural plaques are areas of thick scar tissue which form in the chest lining and diaphragm and are caused by asbestos exposure.

It does not have any obvious symptoms, but about 10% of people with pleural plaque develop other asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.

The Damages Bill, which would compensate those with pleural plaque, was then passed in the House of Commons in October, but is still to be debated in the House of Lords.

Mr Lodge, who represents about 70 people, said he was reasonably optimistic the law would eventually be passed by the government.

"I think it is hopeful they will introduce a new scheme whereby anyone who can show that they have pleural plaque will receive a fairly standard nominal amount."

Clive Sutton, 67, from Stonesfield near Witney, came into contact with asbestos whilst working at a manufacturing plant in the fifties and sixties.

Doctors confirmed he had developed pleural plaque after having a chest x-ray in 2005.

He said: "When the ruling took place in the House of Lords, I think that's what the Lords were working on - the fact that no-one with pleural plaque had gone on to suffer any serious injury or effects."

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