ISSN 1470-8108 Issue 95 Summer 2014


1. Challenging the Government’s Secret Deal on Mesothelioma
2. Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar
3. Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales Campaign

1. Challenging the Government’s Secret Deal on Mesothelioma

Government plans to protect the interests of British insurers by penalizing mesothelioma claimants were exposed this Summer through judicial and Parliamentary actions. On July 29 and July 30, 2014, a High Court hearing took place in the case of Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers at the Royal Courts of Justice (CO/966/2014).1 Leigh Day solicitors represented the Forum in its legal challenge to the December 4, 2013 decision by the Government via section 48 of the LASPO (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) to “apply sections 44 and 46 of that Act to mesothelioma cases.” Section 48 of LASPO requires the Government to carry out “a review of the likely effects” of applying these provisions to mesothelioma sufferers and to publish a report of its conclusions before they could be brought into force. Should these proposals be approved, individuals with mesothelioma would potentially have part of their compensation awards taken away in legal and insurance costs. This could be as high as 25% of general damages. During the High Court hearings, Mr. Justice Davis was told about victims’ concerns regarding “the absence of any proper review and the absence of proper reasons justifying the change…”2 The lack of transparency and discussion with civil society stakeholders outside the insurance industry during a 2013 “public consultation” reinforced suspicions about the Government’s motivations in advocating these changes. Victims, MPs, trade unionists and campaigners agree this has not happened. As Forum Chair Tony Whitston explained:

“Mesothelioma sufferers and their families will accept a decision on the imposition of legal costs if it is based on a fair and credible review. The Government’s decision to proceed on the basis of such a flawed review will not be accepted by sufferers or their families and will result in an enduring sense of grievance for years to come.”3

Comments made during a debate in the House of Commons on January 29, 2014 criticizing the lack of rationale for the Ministerial decision of December 4, 2013 were cited in the amended detailed grounds of claim, statement of facts and details of remedy sought submitted by the claimant:

  1. “There had been nothing approaching a satisfactory ‘review’ as required by the Act;
  2. No report supposedly justifying the changes had been published;
  3. Such reason as had been intimated, namely the Government’s desire for a synchronicity between the coming into force of the Mesothelioma Act 2014 (an Act that has nothing to do with litigated mesothelioma claims) and the removal of the exception for mesothelioma claims contained in LASPO, had no logical connexion (sic), and could not plausibly justify the change.”4

Substantiating the claim of unfairness was a letter by James Dalton of the Association of British Insurers to the Justice Committee which had a document attached, entitled “Mesothelioma Heads of Agreement dated 13 July 2012: Her Majesty's Government and the Association of British Insurersn44n44,”5 that proved, so civil society spokespersons alleged, the existence of “a secret deal,” “a shoddy deal,” “a behind the scenes deal” between the Government and the insurers over mesothelioma reforms.6 This document was never meant for public consumption; paragraph one of the Mesothelioma Heads of Agreement made that clear:

“This document is confidential and remains the property of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Neither the contents of this paper nor the document itself may be disclosed to a Third Party, including under a request under the Freedom of Information Act, without prior written consent of the ABI.”

Nevertheless and despite the ABI’s instructions, the seven page dossier was uploaded to the website of the Justice Committee. When the existence and terms of the agreement became known, legal expert Ian McFall, who had robustly criticized the Government’s actions in evidence presented to Justice Committee hearings on May 13, 2014,7 said:

“This confirms in writing what we suspected; the ABI and Government colluded on reforms to benefit the insurance industry and to the detriment of mesothelioma claimants. The most significant part of the deal to achieve savings for insurers was making dying mesothelioma sufferers pay legal costs. The existence of this deal between the Government and the ABI flies in the face of open government and raises serious questions about whether other such agreements are out there.”8

Just who was a party to this “deal” remains something of a mystery as can be seen by a much redacted email sent on July 1, 2013 with the subject header “Mesothelioma Consultation Docs.” In the sixteen lines of text (which accounts for approximately 1/5 of the content of the email) not blacked out, the author “Laura” discussed a meeting with Helen Grant (HG) (Under-Secretary of State for Justice from September 4, 2012 to October 7, 2013), David Parkin (DP) and Emma Burgess (EB) on Mesothelioma Consultation:

“HG has some concerns with the submission put up to her regarding the advice which let her know about the Heads of Agreement (HoA) between HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] and the ABI... She said that she was consulting on the basis that she could change her mind on the proposals if the evidence suggests that this was not the most beneficial to the victims of mesothelioma.”

No one knows if the Minister’s change of mind led to her transfer in October 2013 to the Ministry of Sport. A scant two months later, her successor Shailesh Vara told Parliament that the Government intended “to apply sections 44 and 46 of the LASPO Act to mesothelioma cases.”9 In a Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons it was noted that:

“The Government do not believe that the case has been made for mesothelioma cases to continue to be treated differently, in particular by comparison to other personal injuries, which can also have profound consequences for the sufferer.”

On August 1, the day after the judicial review hearings ended – the judgment is expected on October 2, 2014 – the Justice Committee published its report on Mesothelioma Claims (HC208) which was critical of “the timing and nature of the [government] review” of proposals affecting mesothelioma victims and categorized the “shoehorning of part of the review into a wider consultation” as a “maladroit way of proceeding”:

“We are concerned that the Government has not been transparent or open, either with us or with other interested parties, about the fact that its overall policy in relation to mesothelioma has been shaped in accordance with an ‘agreement’, however informal and elastic, which it had reached with employers’ liability insurers. It is hard to see how a balanced and informed public debate can take place when a prior agreement has been reached between two of the principal parties to that debate, and that agreement is not known to others participating in the debate, including victims.”10

The publication of the Justice Committee’s report was welcomed by asbestos victims groups and trade unionists;11 in statements about the committee’s findings, they condemned the deal to minimize insurers’ asbestos-related liabilities and deprive dying cancer victims of the compensation they were due.

Commenting on the summer’s developments, Tony Whitston said:

“The Government should acknowledge the forceful challenges by mesothelioma sufferers and the Justice Committee to its premature review of the mesothelioma exemption. A rush by Government to end the exemption on Parliament’s return this autumn without a debate in both Houses of Parliament will be seen as an act of bad faith and a determination to consider the insurers’ interests above those of mesothelioma sufferers and their families.”

2. Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar

For the first time in more than a decade, the annual seminar of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group took place outside Westminster Palace. Despite a booking which had been confirmed in early 2014, on July 14, two days before the seminar was due to take place, the use of Committee Room 10 in the House of Commons was reassigned for “urgent parliamentary business.” At the last minute, the three-hour meeting was relocated to the Council Chamber at Trades Union Congress House. Despite this setback, the presence and active engagement of MPs Jim Sheridan, Ian Lavery and Kate Green ensured that the issues raised by asbestos stakeholders would be conveyed to the highest levels of government.

The release of updated mesothelioma mortality data at the beginning of the month underlined the deadly relevance of the subjects discussed in the seminar. With the exception of 2011, throughout the 21st century, UK mesothelioma mortality rose every year; between the beginning of the century and 2012, there was a 55% increase in the number of deaths. In 2012, 2,535 people died from mesothelioma, an 11% increase on the 2011 figure. Reacting to this news, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Judith Hackitt said: “The high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year.”12 Veteran campaigner Professor Rory O’Neill was less guarded with his reaction to the news:

“For decades, the authorities have downplayed the impact asbestos has had on British workers and citizens. Every time the HSE has set an upper limit for mesothelioma mortality, it has been breached. Now that the ‘official’ figures have burst through the upper level predictions, we have to ask what about all those people whose mesothelioma deaths are never recorded. Given the escalation in mortality and the numbers of those suffering, the lack of a government-backed mesothelioma research program is a scandal.”

Speaking on behalf of the British Lung Foundation, Dr. John Moore-Gillon seconded Professor O’Neill’s comments:

“Mesothelioma is a ghastly disease but because there are no high profile sufferers unlike HIV/Aids, breast cancer and heart diseases, there is a lack of publicity, awareness and, as a consequence, little money going into research… There is no sign of mesothelioma levelling off… There is a small risk to every one of us – I have hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of tiny asbestos fibres in my lung because every time I go into a city I am exposed – but there are thousands of others occupationally exposed and at the highest risk. Research is essential.”13

Lauren Ross, whose husband Frank died of mesothelioma in 2007, was the seminar’s first speaker. Mrs. Ross detailed the terrible price paid by generations of workers who had died prematurely from occupational accidents and diseases. Before her husband had been diagnosed with mesothelioma Mrs. Ross, who had lost her grandfather and great uncle to work accidents, had “thought that deaths at work were a thing of the past.” “The reason I have come here today is,” she said “because I know that unfortunately this is not the case.” Frank was only sixty years old when he died; had it not been for mesothelioma, he could have lived another 24 years. Statistics the speaker presented underlined the terrible impact that asbestos exposure was having in Britain. “Between 1968 and 2009, there were 38,000 deaths due to mesothelioma… By the year 2040, 90,000 people will have died from mesothelioma. These figures are frightening.” Frank Ross was aware, said his wife, that he could have passed “this awful legacy to me and his four children,” via the asbestos dust he brought home on his work clothes. “He should,” Mrs. Ross said “not have had that extra burden to bear.” To protect others, she urged that action be taken to ensure that preventative measures be enforced and that funding be provided so that life-saving medical research could be conducted.

Reacting to Mrs. Ross’ presentation, Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston and shadow minister for disabled people, categorized the UK incidence of asbestos-related disease as a “persistent epidemic.” Although the implementation this summer of the Mesothelioma Act 2014 was significant, the 80% compensation paid to qualifying applicants should, she said, be 100%. The Labour Party had pledged to look at this and other measures which disadvantage asbestos victims, such as changes introduced by the Coalition Government in 2013 to the funding of asbestos disease claims. To this end, consultations are progressing with civil society stakeholders, including members of the asbestos victims’ community, to discuss the country’s asbestos challenges and agree upon an action list which prioritizes victims’ needs, prevention, education and research. Ian Lavery MP for Wansbeck was scathing about the behaviour of the insurance industry which historically accepted Employers’ Liability premiums but was now asking the government to ring-fence some of its asbestos liabilities. A diagnosis of mesothelioma is a “death sentence,” he said; how can you deny 100% compensation to someone dying of an asbestos-related disease.

In the keynote presentation Fiona Murie, the Global Director of Occupational Health and Safety for the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI),14 described the BWI’s long-standing struggle to secure safe working conditions for its members, emphasizing the risk to construction workers of occupational asbestos exposures. Data the speaker presented substantiated the high incidence of asbestos cancer mortality amongst carpenters, plumbers and electricians in the UK, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, the U.S. and elsewhere. Ms. Murie contrasted the huge discrepancy between the situation in developed and developing countries; in most of the former, the only permitted handling of asbestos was by highly protected and trained technicians during asbestos removal operations while in the latter, asbestos was regarded as just another raw material. At the BWI’s International Asbestos Conference in May 2014, speakers described uncontrolled and deadly occupational exposures in industrializing countries and highlighted the risks from contaminated products in countries which had banned asbestos.15

A large number of initiatives had been implemented by the BWI to raise asbestos awareness, minimize hazardous exposures, support members’ asbestos campaigns and promote the rights of those affected by asbestos. Progress had been made as a result of collaborative actions with global partners, including labor federations, national centers, asbestos victims’ groups, campaigning bodies, non-governmental organizations and technical experts. The Outline for the Development of National Action Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and World Health Organization (WHO) had proved a practical and effective tool for facilitating change. Despite concerted efforts by industry propagandists, the terms of reference of the asbestos dialogue had moved on, even in countries which had not yet banned asbestos. It was deplorable that “yellow unions,” organizations set up by and for asbestos industry stakeholders, worked in Brazil, Russia and elsewhere for the benefit of asbestos companies and against the best interests of workers.

A discussion of the current asbestos battles in the Philippines and India, countries where BWI affiliates were actively engaged in the ban asbestos movement, was highly informative about the scope and nature of the challenges being faced. For several years, BWI affiliates in the Philippines had engaged in grassroots work and high level discussions aimed at ending asbestos use. Several Parliamentary initiatives had focused attention on this issue and currently an Asbestos Ban Bill was being considered. In retaliation, industry lobbyists – the International Chrysotile Association, the Association of Chrysotile Industries of the Philippines and the Chrysotile information Center of Thailand – held a “pseudo-scientific” asbestos conference in Manila on October 25, 2013 to reassure the government, the public and the media that chrysotile (white) asbestos could be used safely under “controlled conditions.” Having spoken at length to BWI activists, Ms. Murie recommended that a group be constituted – Parliamentarians against Asbestos – with representatives from ban and non-ban countries who could exchange information and provide support for politicians engaged in the asbestos debate. This suggestion was warmly received by MPs Jim Sherdian, Ian Lavery and Dutch Senator Bob Ruers, parliamentarians in the chamber during Ms. Murie’s presentation.

Recognizing that banning asbestos was just part of the process, the BWI was also calling for asbestos audits of the built environment, controlled removal of asbestos-containing products, safe transport and disposal of contaminated waste, mandatory measures to minimize hazardous exposures for people engaged in maintenance, demolition and removal work, as well as improved medical surveillance, early detection and treatment of asbestos-related disease and support for the injured. Concluding her talk Ms. Murie said: “We need to consolidate the gains over recent years. Our asbestos campaign maintains its objective: to work with producing and exporting countries to counter industry’s propaganda and misinformation campaigns which are hampering progress towards asbestos bans in several countries.”

The next speaker Dutch Senator and lawyer Bob Ruers had represented more than 1,000 asbestos claimants in the Netherlands. In 2012 he obtained a PhD on Dutch asbestos regulations from the University of Rotterdam; the title of his thesis was “Power and countervailing power in Dutch asbestos regulations.” Senator Ruers focused on the case of Klaas Jasperse, a former factory worker suffering from mesothelioma, in his presentation entitled: The First Asbestos Claim Brought against the Dutch State. For thirty years, Mr Jasperse had been occupationally exposed to asbestos on almost a daily basis at an aluminium factory in Vlissingen (Flushing), a municipality in the southwest of the Netherlands. In 2009, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mr Jasperse brought a claim against his employer, but the company became insolvent; a legal action was then launched against the Dutch State for its negligence in failing to protect employees from the asbestos hazard.

Mr. Ruers reviewed Dutch and international law supporting Mr. Jasperse’s claim, arguing that the occupational asbestos hazard was known in the Netherlands more than sixty years previously “because it was in 1949 that the Dutch state recognised asbestosis as an occupational disease and that employers were required to take precautions to protect their employees against asbestos.” The speaker argued that given the:

“widely available knowledge and the publications produced by the Health and Safety Inspectorate about asbestos, the Dutch state could have been expected to have warned the users of asbestos and asbestos products in a timely and appropriate manner about the fact that each exposure to asbestos carried with it a cancer risk. The Dutch state could also have been expected to ensure that the laws regarding the use of asbestos would be adhered to... If the state does not live up to this responsibility and does not satisfy its duty, then it acted wrongfully and also failed to act.”

A similar claim against the French Government was successful in May 2012 and asbestos victims are now pursuing actions against the Japanese Government. If this, the first claim against the Dutch Government was won, others could follow.

It is of relevance to note that, days after the seminar, on July 24, 2014 the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that the Government of Malta had, between 1968 and 2003, failed to protect ship repair yard workers from exposure to asbestos in the case of Brincat and Others v. Malta.16 The infringements for which the Government was condemned were: violating Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and violating Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention. The Maltese Government was ordered to pay compensation to the claimants.

In the presentation entitled New Generation Therapy for Mesothelioma, Dean Fennell, Professor of Thoracic Medical Oncology from the University of Leicester, told delegates that the UK had the world’s highest incidence of mesothelioma; this situation constituted “a (national) health emergency.” Unfortunately, the global burden of mesothelioma was likely to increase in many parts of the world due to historic and current consumption levels of asbestos. Having reviewed the progress made in medical research into the treatment of lung cancer, the speaker delineated new techniques and protocols being explored by UK researchers in the fight against mesothelioma. The UK was, he said, “leading the world in randomized trials and more are due to start.” Currently, however, the only chemotherapy for mesothelioma was based on research from 2003; under treatment with pemetrexed and cisplatin average survival rates increased from 9.3 months to 12.1 months.

Areas of interest currently under investigation for treatment of mesothelioma tumors include the efficacy of exploiting deficiencies of the argininosuccinate synthetase enzyme, reactivating the NF2 gene and inhibiting FAK (Focal Adhesion Kinase) protein production to suppress tumor growth. The speaker discussed the progress of the UK Mesothelioma 2 Clinical Trial (Meso 2) which began on August 21, 2013 and ends on January 31, 2015. In Meso 2, researchers were assessing the effects of adding the drug ganetespib to the standard chemotherapy cocktail, pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin, used for treating pleural mesothelioma. Clinicians were hopeful that targeted and personalized therapies for mesothelioma patients would improve medical outcomes. The goal was, said Professor Fennell, to develop a stratified therapy paradigm for individual mesothelioma patients. During the Q & A, Professor Fennell was asked by MPs how much of his research was funded by the government; the answer was none.

The final speaker was Jason Addy, a PhD researcher in environmental and occupational law policy, who addressed Low Level Asbestos – Lessons from History. Mr. Addy raised concerns about the former asbestos site in the Spodden Valley, Rochdale where asbestos contamination took place on an industrial scale over decades. Asbestos production by the Turner Brothers Asbestos Company, which later became Turner and Newall Ltd. (T&N), started at this site in the 1870s. A 1957 document referenced by the speaker noted that 15,000lbs [6.8 metric tonnes] of waste extraction dust were dumped every week. In 2004 this site was sold by the administrators of T&N and plans were submitted for the construction of an urban village of 600+ homes and a children’s nursery. An environmental statement issued that year stated: “of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination.” As of now, efforts by local campaigners to prevent development of this land in the absence of robust scientific evidence documenting the lack of asbestos contamination had succeeded.

It is likely that T&N, once known as the UK asbestos giant, is responsible for more UK asbestos-related deaths than any other manufacturer. T&N aggressively lobbied decision and policy makers in local and national government on matters of commercial interest. A historical analysis of archived T&N documents relating to the 1969 Asbestos Regulations and Guidance Notes was informative about the access to gatekeepers and the influence on key stakeholders T&N exploited to ensure that the economic, political and legal climate remained as favorable as possible for the asbestos industrial sector. The documents cited were just a few of the thousands amassed by the speaker over recent decades. In order to ensure that the detailed historical records accumulated on these subjects remained available, it was recommended that a project be launched to collate and digitize this archive.

One of the confidential corporate memos presented by the speaker was dated July 29, 1970 and reported incidents where Factory Inspectors had been “upsetting users of asbestos by wrong interpretation of the regulations.” The T&N employee who authored this text reassured his colleagues that: view of the assurance from Mr Luxon that all Factory Inspectorate personnel have been properly briefed, there should be no more trouble... In other words, troublesome inspectors were to be reined in. The company’s efforts to calm the waters extended to monitoring protests and actions by asbestos critics. A company spy attended the first public meeting of the Asbestosis Action Group which took place at 8 p.m. at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge on May 2, 1975. He reported that solicitor John Pickering, who was the first speaker, “described the former management at Acre Mill as criminals.” Pickering said the “the Factory Inspectorate did nothing for 30 years ... [and]...was of the opinion that the Factory Inspectorate could not have been ignorant of the risks involved in working with asbestos and that there had been a deliberate policy of neglect on behalf of the government and ‘to hell with people.’” Concluding his presentation, Mr. Addy referenced comments made previously by Senator Ruers about the negligence of national governments. The evidence documenting collusion between the British State and corporate interests suggested, the speaker said, new legal pathways which might be pursued to obtain justice for UK asbestos victims.

Despite the last minute change of venue, the high calibre of speakers ensured that the material presented and the discussions which took place were both informative and constructive. The wide range of subjects explored during the meeting included victims’ rights, trade union mobilization, medical research, access to compensation, historical and global developments. A common theme was the need for a long-term well-resourced research and outreach program to deal with the UK’s asbestos legacy. The failure of successive governments to engage with this challenge was highlighted by speakers as well as by delegates and MPs. Having welcomed promises made by Labour MPs during the seminar, should the General Election next year result in a Labour victory, everything possible would be done to hold them to account. Are you listening Ed Miliband?

3. Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales Campaign

by Cenric Clement-Evans17

As memories of hot summer days begin to fade, I found myself suddenly having to cast my mind back to my university days. A Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales has revealed that the bedrooms of 3,000 students in Wales contain asbestos. This includes my old halls of residence and like many other students, both before and after, I was blissfully unaware of this. I believe that I had a right to know. In early 2012 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety published the booklet “Asbestos in schools – the need for action.” Upon reading this wonderful document, I quickly realised that it was largely focused upon schools in England, whereas of course Education and indeed Health are matters which here in Wales are devolved. I therefore met with my assembly member and she agreed to write to then Minister of Education and Skills, to ask the simple question, how many schools in Wales contain asbestos. To my surprise the answer came back that asbestos in schools was not the responsibility of the Welsh Government but rather a matter for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

This spurred me into action, and with much support, the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales Campaign was conceived. There followed a lot of groundwork, including the development of a website. An online petition was prepared for the National Assembly for Wales. Then out of the blue and mid-preparation Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly was closed due to the presence of asbestos. Its pupils were forced to continue their schooling 12 miles away in another valley town. The fallout from the closure of Cwmcarn High School, which reopened 14 months later at a cost of over 1 million, rumbles on. Despite everything, the HSE have insisted throughout that the school was safe. What the closure of Cwmcarn High did was to cast the media spotlight upon the issue of asbestos in Welsh schools and the media remains interested. We need to ensure that that interest continues.

In the intervening period much has been done to attempt to persuade the Welsh Government that it is responsible for the issue of asbestos in schools in Wales. There has been much parliamentary cross-party support, both at Westminster and in Cardiff Bay. Many letters have been written, and questions asked in the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and in the Senedd here in Wales.18 The issue remains on the political agenda here at least in part, because of the “Right to know” petition:

“We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to put measures in place to ensure that parents and guardians of children across Wales can easily access information about the presence and management of asbestos in all school buildings.

Given the health risks associated with the presence of asbestos in public buildings, we believe parents and guardians across Wales have:

  • the right to know if asbestos is located in their school;
  • the right to know whether, where asbestos is present, it is being managed in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012;
  • the right to access that information easily online.”19

Whilst the petition is no longer available to sign, the Petitions Committee has already reviewed it on three occasions. I continue to be asked, as the petitioner, for my input. Since December 2013 the Committee has twice written to the Minister for Education and Skills for his comments. They have invited the views of the acting CEO of the HSE who has advised that there is nothing to prevent the Welsh Government granting my petition, and that responsibility for the issue of asbestos in schools in Wales is not a matter for the HSE but is indeed for the Welsh Government. I await the Minister’s response to this with considerable interest. At my suggestion the committee have also written to the Wales TUC, Governors Wales and the Welsh Local Government Association for their views as interested parties.

The position of Wales TUC following their resolution in May 2014 was quite clear:

“Conference reaffirms the position of the Wales TUC that the only safe option in relation to the control of asbestos in school buildings is to remove and dispose of the risk. Conference welcomes the clarity provided in the House of Lords on 14 January 2014 that the development of policies for the management and control of asbestos in schools is a matter for the Welsh Government.

Conference, therefore, calls on the Welsh Government to embrace this responsibility and work with local government and the Wales TUC to develop a policy for the progressive, safe and effective removal of asbestos from all schools in Wales.”

With the help of a lot of friends and a lot of support along the way, I believe we are very close to getting asbestos in schools firmly on the agenda of the Welsh Government. Of course this is only the start of the debate as then we must work toward its removal. In the meantime, I believe firmly that at the very least, parents and guardians of our children and those working in our schools do have a right to know about the presence of asbestos.


1 Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers.

2 ibid page 3, paragraph 4.

3 Press Release. High Court challenge begins against Government on behalf of asbestos victims. July 28, 2014.

4 Tony Whitston (for and on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) v. Secretary of State for Justice and Association of British Insurers. page 16.

5 Letter from James Dalton (ABI) to Justice Select Committee. 22 May 2014. Mesothelioma Heads of Agreement 13 July 2012: Her Majesty’s Government and The Association of British Insurers.
See also: The Heads of Agreement between the Government and insurers.

6 Dugan E. Secret deal meant mesothelioma compensation scheme favoured insurers. August 1, 2014.
See also: Kazan-Allen L. Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels? August 1, 2014.

7 Justice Committee. Oral evidence: Mesothelioma Claims, HC 1253. Tuesday 13 May 2014.

8 Press Release. Government ‘behind closed doors’ deal with insurers comes to light. June 13, 2014.

9 Hansards. Ministerial Statement. December 4, 2013.

10 Commons Select Committee. Mesothelioma compensation: Government must consult again following "maladroit" review. August 1, 2014.

11 Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK). Justice Committee says Government Must Consult Again on Mesothelioma Claims following “Maladroit Review.” August 1, 2014.

12 HSE. New figures show all time low in fatal injuries to workers. July 2, 2014.
See also: Mesothelioma in Great Britain 2014. June 2014.

13 Crookes D. Exclusive: Urgent call for research into mesothelioma after rise in number of deaths. July 2, 2014.

14 The Building and Wood Workers’ International has 300 trade union affiliates and 13 million members. See:

15 Kazan-Allen L. Report: BWI International Conference on Asbestos. August 4, 2014.

16 Brincat and Others v. Malta. July 24, 2014.

17 Cenric Clement-Evans is a solicitor at NewLaw Solicitors, Cardiff and a spokesperson for the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales Campaign.

18 For a summary you may want to read:
Clement-Evans C. Asbestos ping-pong between Cardiff Bay and Westminster. April 9, 2014.

19 P-04-552. Asbestos in Schools. National Assembly for Wales.


Compiled by Laurie Kazan-Allen
©Jerome Consultants