In a bid to ensure that victims of asbestos-related diseases are not denied compensation from defunct employers, Thompsons Solicitors is urging the government to rethink proposals to delete historic Companies House records.

The government is proposing to reduce the length of time Companies House retains information from twenty years to six years, by deleting millions of records for dissolved companies.

Reports claim that Companies House has been under pressure to delete records from business people who have been associated in the past with now defunct companies, but the move could make it harder for those suffering with an asbestos disease to trace their previous employers.

Despite being banned from use in the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says asbestos diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, kill nearly 20 tradesmen every week.

In a statement, Jo Stevens MP, Labour’s Shadow Solicitor General, has called the proposal “deeply worrying”, adding that the records are a “reliable and historical source of evidence for lawyers representing victims of asbestos disease”.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Asbestos diseases take decades to develop. Many of the companies responsible for asbestos exposure decades ago are now defunct. By reducing the time that Company information is stored to six years, it could seriously prejudice the chances of supporting compensation claims for asbestos victims and their families.

“Thompsons has represented thousands of people suffering from asbestos diseases and has vast experience of how Companies House information can be vital in tracing the identity and registered offices of companies that went out of business decades ago.

“The proposal to delete historical records is more likely to benefit companies with something to hide.

“Our priority is to ensure that victims of asbestos disease are compensated for their employer’s negligence. We will support Labour in opposing this retrograde proposal.”