The MoD, veterans and asbestos exposure

I welcome news that David Cameron is to review the way in which veterans dying due to asbestos exposure during their military service are compensated.

During Prime Ministers Questions yesterday, the Prime Minister was challenged by Labour MP Dave Anderson over the unfair treatment of former service personnel suffering from mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer caused by asbestos.

The law protects the Ministry of Defence (MoD) from being sued for compensation for illness or injury caused before 1987. This means some 2,500 Royal Navy veterans who will die of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure on ships decades ago can only apply for a war pension.

The very reason the Law changed in 1987 and S10 of the Armed Forces (Crown Proceedings) Act was that military personnel working alongside civilians in her majesty’s dock yards, who were exposed to asbestos could not claim where civilians could. To allow the military to claim from 1987 was clearly a step in the right direction, but asbestos is a latent disease and lies hidden for years after exposure, sometimes up to 30 years later. Time to claim (currently 3 years) has expired. Time in my view should run from the date the person realised they had asbestosis and that it was related to service even if this is pre 1987.

I agree entirely with the comments below from David Anderson MP and Madeleine Moon MP.

“We need action not warm words…in the week that we recognise the sacrifice that our Armed Forces gave to this country we should look into removing any obstacles that prevent equal access to compensation for all.”  David Anderson MP.

“Sadly time is not on the side of those who were exposed to asbestos. The PM must give a firm commitment to bring RN personnel into the same compensation scheme as civilians.”  Madeleine Moon MP, a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee.


Hilary Meredith