Barbara Sharp’s husband, Ronald died aged only 59 from the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, which he contracted after many years working as a scenic painter in the film industry during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

A recent House of Lords decision meant that because only one of the three companies he worked for could be traced and had valid insurance, his widow would only be able to claim a percentage of the full compensation owed to her. After a campaign involving Thompsons Solicitors, trade unions and asbestos support groups, the Government has said that it plans to amend the Compensation Bill to reverse this decision and ensure that victims of mesothelioma and their families receive the full compensation they deserve.

The insurance industry would save tens of millions of pounds if the decision was not reversed while thousands of victims of the fatal illness, and their families, would lose compensation.

Husband died after exposure to asbestos

Mrs Sharp said: "No amount of money will bring back my husband Ronnie. However, his former employers, who exposed him to the asbestos that killed him, should be made to pay full compensation. Only one of the three employers who exposed him can be traced and was insured, and until the ruling is reversed they will only have to pay a percentage of the compensation claim.

“This battle has spoilt Ronnie’s memory. I didn’t expect to have to fight insurance companies when I should be grieving. I certainly didn’t expect to lose my husband, my children’s father, so young due to the negligence of his former employers. If the Barker decision is not reversed quickly, they will escape full punishment.”

Support from Trade Union

Ronald Sharp was a member of the trade union, BECTU and they have supported his widow with her claim for compensation. After the Government’s announcement, the assistant general secretary of BECTU, Gerry Morrissey said “I am glad the Government is acting to restore justice by ensuring those whose lives have been devastated by this terrible disease will receive full compensation. BECTU will continue to campaign for justice for all asbestos victims and their families.''

Act Quickly

The main problem now is that the Government must act quickly to reverse the decision to avoid some victims missing out on their compensation just because their case is due to be heard in Court soon. David Stothard, Mrs Sharp’s solicitor at Thompsons said "The government has shown real compassion and a commitment to sufferers. This is exactly what we have been urging it to do. We said we wanted clear, swift and decisive action to reverse the impact of Barker. This amendment will restore the right to full compensation and benefit thousands of mesothelioma sufferers and their families. It is vital that this amendment becomes effective without delay."

But because there are some mesothelioma sufferers and their widows whose compensation claims will be decided by the courts in the near future, Mr Stothard stressed that the amendment must cover all claims, present and future.

More information about mesothelioma

To read more about mesothelioma, visit our information page.

To read previous Thompsons Press releases about his subject visit:

Government shows real compassion, but must act for all victims, lawyers say
Thompsons calls for swift action after Prime Minister's announcement on asbestos
Lords slash asbestos compensation

If you or someone you know has been injured by asbestos and you would like to know more about making a compensation claim, telephone us on 08000 224 224 or complete one of our online personal injury compensation claim forms.