Abestos activists and union members will take fight for compensation to the constituencies of Jack Straw and Hilary Benn

Ucuatt will tomorrow take its ongoing campaign for pleural plaque sufferers directly to the seats of two prominent Cabinet ministers.

Asbestos activists will join members of the construction union in targeting the Blackburn seat of justice secretary Jack Straw and the environment secretary Hilary Benn’s Leeds Central constituency, which has the highest number of asbestos related deaths in Yorkshire.

Protesters meet justice minister Jack Straw in February 2008
Protesters meet justice minister Jack Straw in February 2008.

Pleural plaques are scars on the lung caused by a heavy and prolonged exposure to asbestos. Sufferers have a greatly increased chance of contracting the incurable lung disease mesothelioma.

Last October the Law Lords overturned 20 years of common law and ruled that pleural plaques should no longer be a compensational illness. Their decision was believed to be worth £1.4bn to the insurance industry.

Despite the Scottish Parliament’s decision to bring forward a Bill to overturn the decision, the Westminster government recently announced it “is not minded” to overturn the Law Lords judgement.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of Ucatt said: “It would be unfair and intolerable if pleural plaque victims north of the border received compensation, while those in England did not.”

Last year 2,000 people died from mesothelioma. Ucatt says the figure is set to rise in the coming years.