Pressure on Government for full compensation for asbestos veterans

Following my recent blog highlighting the plight of veterans exposed to asbestos before 1987 who are denied access to full compensation I was pleased to hear that on 9 November 2015 an Early Day Motion was tabled in Parliament to consider the Military Covenant for ex-service personnel with mesothelioma, the fatal asbestos related cancer.

Compensation for Asbestos Exposure in the Military – the Current Position

Under the Armed Forces Covenant the government is under a duty to ensure that veterans are not disadvantaged because of their service in the military.

Currently laws prevent veterans exposed to asbestos before 1987 from seeking compensation from the Ministry of Defence.

For many years now this problem has left military victims of asbestos exposure and their families disadvantaged compared to their civilian counterparts, resulting in soldiers, sailors and airmen who have gone on to develop mesothelioma losing out on full compensation.

To put it in perspective, compensation for civilian mesothelioma victims can reach up to £180,000 under the government’s diffuse mesothelioma payment scheme which awards payments to mesothelioma sufferers. Veterans, on the other hand, of the same age with the same asbestos related condition, are left thousands of pounds worse off with payouts of a fraction of that amount awarded under the war disablement pension scheme.

Compensation for Asbestos Exposure in the Military – the Future

Following the Prime Minister’s promise earlier this month to review compensation for military victims and take account of the Military Covenant, a letter headed ‘Compensation for exposure to asbestos’ was sent this week by the Defence Committee to the Ministry of Defence requesting further information including:

  • An estimate of the number of former serving personnel who contracted mesothelioma as a result of their military duties
  • The current legal situation in respect of compensation paid to former serving personnel who were exposed to asbestos and
  • Whether there are any plans to amend the necessary legislation in order to correct this situation.

This week also saw a welcome response from the government to calls for change backed by campaigners demanding a solution to the loophole which currently denies veterans the right to full compensation where they are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Parliament heard arguments that the current approach by this government for compensating veterans who develop mesothelioma must be changed because it’s a clear breach of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster, said he is “minded to find a solution”. An update is expected to follow in the next coming weeks.

I hope the changes ensure every veteran with mesothelioma is offered the opportunity to be awarded a payment that is comparable to the sums currently received by civilians under the government’s diffuse mesothelioma payment scheme or through the civil courts.