Category Archives: News

Landmark Court of Appeal success for asbestos victims

The Court of Appeal today ruled (see Cape and Dring Approved judgment) that the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (‘the Forum’) has a legitimate interest in obtaining documents that will shed light on the true knowledge of the dangers of asbestos products held by Cape Intermediate Holdings, formerly one of the largest manufacturers of asbestos products in the UK.

The Forum must be given access to numerous documents which were disclosed in an earlier case in which Cape were a defendant.

Landmark Victory in the High Court for Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) have won a case in the High Court for disclosure of historic documents that could reveal that industry and Government agencies knew far more about the dangers of asbestos products than they revealed.

In February 2017 a 6 week long case concluded in the Royal Courts of Justice between insurance companies, who had previously paid compensation to dying mesothelioma victims, and Cape Distribution Limited and subsidiary companies. The insurers argued that Cape should share the costs of compensation as it was their products that had caused the diseases, and because Cape knew more about the dangers of their products than they had disclosed.

During the course of this case, the Cape companies were ordered to disclose thousands of documents which showed what they knew about the dangers of exposure to asbestos. Both sides made a confidential agreement to destroy these documents at the end of the trial. On hearing this, the Forum instructed Harminder Bains of Leigh Day to apply to the Court to preserve the documents, which Master McCloud granted in April.

At a 3 day hearing in the High Court in October, Counsel for the Forum argued that it was in the public interest that the Forum be given these documents. They could help mesothelioma victims currently pursuing compensation claims in courts. It was also in the wider public interest to learn more about how Cape contributed to the biggest industrial disaster this country has ever seen and how their political lobbying influenced Government safety measures that were supposed to protect the lives and well-being of workers.

In her judgement of 5 December Master McCloud agreed the Forum had a legitimate interest in obtaining the documents, and decided in the Forum’s favour, agreeing disclosure of most of the documents the Forum had requested. She stated that the Forum was “a group which provides help and support to asbestos victims. In some respects it is also a pressure group and is involved in lobbying and in promoting asbestos knowledge and safety. Those are legitimate activities and provide legitimate interest”.

Graham Dring, Chair of the Forum said “This decision is fantastic news. Cape, along with Turner & Newall were the two biggest asbestos companies in this country. Their activities and products exposed thousands of workers and their families to asbestos and caused many deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. It is essential we now find out exactly how much they knew about the dangers of their products and when they knew this. These documents have been hidden for far too long. Cape owe us all an explanation of their role in the biggest industrial scandal to hit this country, a scandal that has not yet run its course with tens of thousands more men and women expected to die from mesothelioma”.

Harminder Bains of Leigh Day, and Rob Weir and Jonathan Butters of Devereux Chambers acted on behalf of the Forum.

Thank you, Madelene & Natalie!

On 2-3rd September 2017, Madelene Holdsworth and Natalie Lamb of Slater & Gordon completed the gruelling 56 mile Bullock Smithy walk to raise funds for GMAVSG.

Following the walk, Madelene said: “It was an extreme challenge and we had a good go at it! Can’t say I’d do it again though….

Thank you for your efforts, Natalie & Madelene!

£573 was raised for GMAVSG (£708.75 with Gift Aid). Many thanks to all who donated.

 

Charity hike up Snowdon

On 29th April 2017, staff from the Manchester and Chester offices of Slater & Gordon hiked up Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales) to raise much-needed funds for GMAVSG and Mesothelioma UK.

The ascent was no walk in the park, but the team enjoyed spectacular panoramic views, on what turned out to be a beautifully clear day. This was one of Snowdon’s busiest weekends of the year. On the descent, there was a stark reminder of the dangers of the mountain, with rescue helicopters hovering above injured and fallen climbers.

Many thanks to the team at Slater & Gordon for their efforts, and to all those who donated.

A total of £917.24, including gift aid, was raised for GMAVSG.

Mesothelioma Support Group summer outing 2017

The Mesothelioma Support Group is for people who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma. Every year, we run a summer outing.

This year’s outing was a canal boat trip in the beautiful Peak District! Starting and ending at Whaley Bridge, the round trip took just over 2 hours. Those who came enjoyed fantastic views, tasty food, plenty of wine and, most importantly, good company!

 

Living Well with Mesothelioma Support Group – 1.30 – 3.30 pm Monday 8th May

This month’s meeting is being held on May 8th (second Monday of the month) because of the bank holiday. As usual we will meet in the Collier Room, Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JQ. These meetings are open to all people living with mesothelioma, carers and family members.

Our speaker this month is Alessandro Pugno, a film-maker and member of AFEVA, the Italian national asbestos victims group. Alessandro was born and raised in a small town called Casale Monferrato. The main employer in this town was a company called Eternit, a giant multi-national asbestos company. Because of the activities of this company, thousands of people from this small town have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases, including many who never worked at the factory who were exposed to asbestos fibres in the environment and from their loved ones’ workclothes.                                                     

Local people have fought for years for justice and restitution. Company directors have been prosecuted but have so far wriggled free on technicalities. Similar campaigns have been waged against Eternit in Belgium, Switzerland, France and Asia. Campaigners have vowed to continue the campaign until the perpetrators have been brought to justice.

This is an inspiring story and will be a good meeting so we hope people can make it.

Keep Phoenix House benefits office open!

Phoenix House in Barrow, Cumbria has been earmarked for closure in March 2018 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Phoenix House is a specialist benefits office that deals with all Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) claims for people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases throughout the country.

If the closure goes ahead it will be a blow for mesothelioma sufferers who benefit greatly from the expertise that has been built up over many years by the DWP staff based in this office. In addition to IIDB claims, staff at Phoenix process linked benefits such as Constant Attendance Allowance, Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance and lump sums paid under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 and 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme.

This is a niche area of the benefits system with complex benefit rules and a vulnerable client group, many of whom are elderly and have been newly diagnosed with a terminal illness. They need to be sure their claims will be dealt with sensitively and efficiently. Staff at Phoenix House tick all these boxes. Advice workers can reassure mesothelioma patients that the benefits to which they are entitled will be processed and paid within two to three weeks in nearly all cases.

The 70 workers in Phoenix House have built up a huge amount of expertise in these specialist benefits over many years. If the office closes the most likely result would be a deterioration in service, longer delays in processing benefit claims and increased uncertainty for mesothelioma patients. Forum groups have developed an excellent working relationship with staff at Phoenix House and the people we help have benefitted greatly from their expertise and empathy.

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK fully supports the Phoenix House workers in their campaign to keep this office open. We have sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions which has been supported by all the main charities and support groups working with victims of asbestos diseases, along with people living with mesothelioma, bereaved family members, doctors and lawyers.

We are now in the middle of a General Election campaign. There will be a new Government and new Ministers after June. We intend to keep the pressure on to keep Phoenix House open after the election and will resend the open letter so that the new Government Ministers are left in no doubt about our total opposition to the closure of this office. If you would like to add your support for this open letter, please contact the Forum at asbestos.mcr@gmail.com

You can also support this campaign by signing the online petition here.

Support June Allingan at London Marathon 2017- in memory of Mike

June Allingan, whose husband Mike had mesothelioma, is running the London Marathon 2017 in his memory.

Any donations will go to Mesothelioma UK and GMAVSG, so we can continue to to raise awareness of this dreadful disease, and to support other asbestos victims and their families.

June’s fundraising page can be found here.

Thank you, June, for your kind and generous support for our charity.

Remembering Kevin Lynch

We received the sad news last week that Kevin Lynch, who was instrumental in establishing the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, passed away on 17th January 2017. We would like to extend our condolences to Kevin’s family.

Living Well with Mesothelioma Support Group – new venue from February

The Support Group meetings will be moving from Cross Street Chapel to the Methodist Central Hall (Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JQ) from February. For a map and directions to the venue click here.

Meetings will still take place on the first Monday of each month (except our May meeting) from 1.30 – 3.30 p.m.

Support Group meetings are open to all mesothelioma patients and their carers. Details of our future meetings can be found here: Living Well A5 Flyer 2017.