‘Robbing the dead and the dying’


Relatives and widows of the thousands of men who died from asbestos-related cancer, yesterday expressed their determination to fight on after the Law Lords ruled they should not receive full compensation, denying the bereaved who have claims worth millions of pounds.

In response to test case appeals by employers and insurance companies, the Law Lords ruled there must be a compensation limit in cases involving several employers, none of whom can be specifically blamed for the onset of the fatal illness.

A group of bereaved relatives and widows demonstrated outside parliament yesterday.

Harminder Bains, a lawyer at Field, Fisher, Waterhouse, told News Line: ‘My dad died of asbestosis. He was exposed while working as a slinger for the MoD at Chatham.

‘He died in October 2000. I am representing my dad and my clients.

‘The judgement is fairer to the insurance industry and the employers and completely unjust to the poor victims who were negligently exposed to asbestos through no fault of their own.’

Doreen Dellaway of Cheshire Asbestosis Support Group said angrily: ‘They’re robbing the dead and the dying.’

Margaret Wolf added: ‘It means that insurance companies are getting away with it while people are dying, mainly men.’

Joyce Green said: ‘It’s a dirty disease. It’s wicked and cruel of the Law Lords, they should have to watch one of their own become a skeleton.’

‘My husband Stan was 16 stone at Xmas, by June he was 10 stone.’

• Second News story


Yesterday, in a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on foreign prisoners, Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced: ‘I will shortly publish, before the end of May, a consultation paper with specific and detailed proposals from the beginning to the end of the process.

‘The guiding principle will be that foreign nationals guilty of criminality should expect to be deported.’

He said that ‘the data which identifies an individual as a foreign national’ must be ‘captured at the point of arrest and as the case proceeds through the courts.’

He continued: ‘At each stage there should be sanctions against individuals who give false information on nationality, or indeed no information at all.

‘Secondly, it is important to ensure that the issue of deportation is raised throughout the sentencing process.’

He said that draft guidelines will shortly be published ‘according to which judges should make deportation recommendations when sentencing’.

Clarke said that ‘we need to deport prisoners at an earlier stage in their sentence.

‘Ideally prisoners should serve their sentence in full in their home country, which also assists rehabilitation.’

He added: ‘The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced arrangements to consider whether prisoners should be deported before the end of the sentence and we will consult upon proposals to enable this to happen earlier in a prisoner’s sentence.’

His fourth proposal is to ‘extend the categories of offenders who are considered for deportation’.

He said: ‘We will therefore publish proposals to consider for deportation a wider range of offenders.’

He stressed: ‘I want to state clearly that where deportation can properly be considered, the clear presumption should be that deportation will follow unless there are special circumstances why it cannot.

‘We will consult on whether this presumption should be made statutory through primary legislation.’