South Tyneside MP David Miliband has stepped in to help a former shipyard worker gain access to a compensation award worth thousands of pounds.

Mr Miliband has written to Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling after hearing how Paul Young, 71, from South Shields may have to wait years to receive compensation for asbestos related condition pleural thickening.

Former plater Paul is one of six ex employees of Smiths Shiprepairers, based in North Shields, who is waiting for compensation after being exposed to asbestos at the shipyard.

Pleural Thickening

Paul, from Henderson Road is sole carer for his 44-year-old brain damaged son, Geoffrey and he sufferers from the disabling lung condition pleural thickening.

He said he has no idea when he can expect to receive more than £12,000 in compensation after his former employer went into liquidation.

Despite a settlement being reached in all the cases, the money cannot be paid because Smith Shiprepairers and its insurers Iron Trades / Chester Street Insurance are in liquidation.

Normally under these circumstances the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) would meet the liabilities of the employer.

This time they have refused until the receivers have confirmed there are no other assets available for the company to meet the asbestos claims.

It is understood the receivers' investigations into the assets and liabilities of Smiths Shiprepairers has been ongoing for a number of years and is not expected to end in the foreseeable future.

The GMB and its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors represent many of the former Smiths Shiprepairers' workers. They are calling for the compensation to be paid out without further delay.

Now Mr Miliband has lent his support by writing to Mr Darling. His office said they are now waiting for a reply.

Paul said: "I hope Alistair Darling replies to this letter quickly. Every day that goes by without this compensation means Geoffrey is missing out on the things he needs.

"This money should have been paid to me as soon as the case was settled."

Head of Asbestos Policy

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors, Ian McFall said: "I hope Alistair Darling sees the significance of this issue and does all he can to make sure these men, who were negligently exposed to asbestos while employed by Smiths Shiprepairers, receive their compensation.”

This story has also been covered in the Newcastle Journal at 'Miliband steps into compensation battle'.