Cheating victims of a fatal cancer is criminal

Stephen Hepburn column.

Stephen Hepburn column.

Cheating victims of a fatal cancer killing three North Easterners every week is absolutely criminal.

Bad employers are getting away with murder and the insurance industry is robbing the dead of nearly £1bn compensation.

I’m talking about mesothelioma, an incurable industrial disease. On Tyneside, the Tory-led Government is short-changing sufferers of this cruel, terrifying illness.

David Cameron’s regime is showing how it values working people less than it would professionals and the middle class in London and South- East England.

Do you think he would cut compensation if it was judges dying from inhaling wig hairs instead of construction and shipyard workers from breathing in asbestos fibres?

Of course he wouldn’t.

Recently, I raised my concerns about the Mesothelioma Bill I’m fighting in Parliament.

It sets up a scheme for victims unable to trace the employer who exposed them to the killer asbestos dust, or their former employer’s insurers.

My anger is at the 75 per cent limit imposed on pay-outs, when I believe all workers gasping for life should be entitled to 100 per cent compensation.

And it is absolutely wrong to deny a single penny to those diagnosed with mesothelioma before July 25, 2012.

I’m backing a better scheme modelled on the Motor Insurance Bureau, which pays out when you have a crash and the other driver is uninsured.

Under the plan I support, mesothelioma victims would receive 100 per cent of what they are owed – and let’s never forget this money supports bereaved families when they’ve gone.

The last Labour Government was consulting on how to create a fair scheme before David Cameron cobbled together his Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, and launched this shoddy alternative.

Rest assured, I and my Labour colleagues will fight this Tory Government and insurers every step of the way because this is a basic question of right and wrong.

It’s wrong to cheat the dying, and right we give financial peace of mind to those suffering now because they worked hard all their lives.

The fingerprints of a greedy, powerful insurance industry, putting its own huge profits above justice, are all over this cracked Bill.




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