Monday, November 12, 2007


A retired dockyard worker who developed scars on his lungs after working with asbestos has attacked a House of Lords decision to end compensation for people with the condition.Ken Peach, aged 75, of Beacon Park, said the Law Lords ruling on pleural plaques - scars on the lungs usually caused by exposure to asbestos - is "disgusting".

The condition can lead to fatal diseases including malignant mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer.

The House of Lords yesterday ruled that pleural plaques was not a disease, ending future claims.

The landmark decision could affect hundreds of people in Plymouth, which is a 'hotspot' for asbestos-related conditions.


Mr Peach joined unions, solicitors and Plymouth MP Linda Gilroy in criticism of the ruling.

The pensioner, who received a Government payout in 2001 after developing pleural plaques, said: "It's disgusting and I feel very sorry this decision was made.

"I have a five per cent chance of the scars on my lungs developing into something more serious. It's a horrible feeling to know it's there; it worries me."

Mr Peach joined Devonport Dockyard in 1952 when he was just 20, working as a joiner. His job involved fitting and ripping out layers of asbestos from submarines docked for routine maintenance.

Plymouth MP Linda Gilroy, who sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Asbestos, said Plymouth has one of the country's highest rates of asbestos-realted conditions.

"This decision is a huge disappointment," she said.

"There will soon be a meeting of the all-party group and we will look at this issue, as well as many others surrounding asbestos-related conditions, and will endeavour to lend as much support to it as we can."

The latest figures show 320 people dying from mesothelioma caused by asbestos between 1985 and 2004.

Cases are expected to peak between 2011 and 2015, as the condition takes between 30 to 40 years to emerge.

John Messham, head of the occupational disease department at Bond Pearce in Plymouth, said the firm has seen around 200 successful cases for pleural plaques in the last five years - with pay outs of between £3,500 and £7,000.

He said: "I could say the House of Lords has failed to recognise the anxiety caused by pleural plaques.

"It's the right decision for insurers but not the many thousands of people across the country who have the condition, for who it will be a devastating blow."

He added around 30 Plymothians' cases would have to be dropped following the announcement.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said: "This is a harsh decision which will affect thousands of people with pleural plaques now and in the future."

The only three UK areas with higher figures of asbestos-related diseases are Barrow-in-Furness, West Dumbartonshire and North Tyneside.

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