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Insurance: Asbestos campaigners demand coalition government come clean on secret pact with industry

TUC congress meeting to expose details of 'shocking deal' to end mesothelioma sufferers' legal costs exemption

Asbestos campaigners have renewed demands for the government to come clean over a secret deal with insurers to impose costs on mesothelioma sufferers seeking compensation.

The call comes ahead of a fringe event at the TUC congress in Liverpool on Monday organised by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (AVSGF) which aims to promote an “agenda for justice” for all asbestosis victims.

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Laspo) imposes legal costs on claimants bringing personal injury cases.

However, due to concerns about the adverse effects this could have on mesothelioma sufferers, such cases were exempted by Parliament until a review had taken place.

The review was carried out in 2013 but in a damning report earlier this year the Commons justice committee described it as “maladroit and unsatisfactory” and called on the government to start again.

In its scathing conclusion, the committee found that “the existence of an undisclosed ‘agreement’ between the government and the insurance industry is not conducive to the creation of trust among victims’ representatives, claimant lawyers and others that an opposing viewpoint will be heard.”

The AVSGF’s Tony Whitston told the Star: “Behind closed doors, the government and insurers not only concocted a watered-down scheme to pay mesothelioma sufferers who cannot trace their employers’ liability insurer partial compensation, thereby excluding 50 per cent of asbestos victims who will receive nothing.

“In return for this cheap scheme they also secured a secret deal including the removal of the exemption for mesothelioma sufferers from paying legal costs.

“The AVSGF fringe meeting is crucial in exposing this shocking deal and in promoting an agenda for justice for all asbestos victims.”

Labour shadow work and pensions minister Kate Green (pictured) will address the fringe meeting.

“For decades, mesothelioma victims have suffered terribly,” she said.

“It can’t be right that so many have been denied justice for the suffering they experienced simply from going out to do a day’s work.”

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