Pleural plaques are scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos. Although rarely causing symptoms they are associated with an increased risk of developing the fatal condition mesothelioma.

Thousands of workers across the UK have been on tenterhooks since the House of Lords ended the right to compensation for pleural plaques in 2007 as a result of a test case brought by the insurance industry.

Following pressure from the unions last year the Government held a consultation looking at a number of different options to bring redress to people diagnosed with pleural plaques. The results of that consultation were expected to be revealed last year.

During the visit Mr Miliband was told of the need to address the social justice issues of asbestos related disease in South Shields, one of the worst affected constituencies in the region.

He also met with Chris Knighton and Anne Craig from the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund who have firsthand experience of the tragedy of losing their husbands to asbestos related disease.

Important step forward for pleural plaques campaign

Ian McFall from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Mr Miliband’s visit was a welcome opportunity for us to discuss the concerns of thousands of pleural plaques sufferers across the UK and to bring to the fore the wider social justice issues surrounding compensation for asbestos disease.”

Tom Brennan, Regional Secretary of GMB Northern said: “At the meeting I laid out our concerns to Mr Miliband about the House of Lords decision and reiterated our belief that compensation should be restored to all those who have negligently suffered by exposure to asbestos. It was an important step forward for the union’s pleural plaques campaign.”

Davey Hall, Unite Regional Secretary said: “We hope Mr Milliband will take a lot away from this meeting and will help support our cause in parliament. Pleural plaques sufferers across the UK are now looking to the Government to right this wrong.”

John Scott, Regional Secretary of the construction workers’ union UCATT said: “This was an opportunity for me to describe to Mr Miliband what it is like to be diagnosed with pleural plaques and the strength of emotions that comes with that diagnosis.

“I hope he has gone away from that meeting thinking about the thousands of workers like me who are in anguish over the Law Lords decision.”

This news story was also published by Chronicle Live and The Shields Gazette.