Bolton South East MP Dr Brian Iddon has given his backing to a campaign to help asbestos victims and their families obtain compensation.

Dr Iddon is supporting the campaign backed by Thompsons Solicitors, asbestos victim support groups and trade unions for an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) after hearing about the predicament of his constituent Ronald Tetlow.

Mr Tetlow has been awarded £110,000 in compensation by the courts after being diagnosed with fatal mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs in April 2007.

Exposed to asbestos at Work

Mr Tetlow was exposed to asbestos while working for Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited from 1959 to 1970. Because the company is no longer in business he won't see a penny of his compensation unless the employers liability insurers for Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited during the time he worked there can be traced.

Sadly Mr Tetlow has been told by doctors he has just months to live.

Despite extensive enquiries with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), specialist insurance archaeologists, correspondence with the former company director and secretary and with local firms of solicitors, there is no record of the insurers for the periods when Mr Tetlow was employed by Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited.

In 1999 the Association of British Insurers (ABI) agreed to set up a voluntary scheme for tracing employers’ liability insurers. A Department for Work and Pensions review of the ABI scheme from 2006 to 2007 shows that this voluntary code fails to identify an insurer in the majority of cases.

Did you work for Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited between 1959 and 1970?

Now Dr Iddon and Thompsons Solicitors are calling for anyone to come forward with any knowledge of who insured Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited at any time between 1959 and 1970. They are particularly interested to hear from anyone who worked for the company in an administrative or managerial capacity.

They are also calling on the government to introduce an ELIB. This would plug the black holes in records of employers’ liability insurance into which an estimated 5% to 10% of asbestos related disease claims fall.

Thompsons is arguing there should be the same protection for injured working people as there is for those injured on the roads by uninsured drivers. Where a negligent driver who is uninsured causes injury or death the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) pays full compensation to the victim.

Mr Tetlow said: “I was devastated when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I couldn’t believe that my work had caused this disease. I decided to pursue compensation to help ease the financial burden during my illness and also to ensure my children were provided for in the future.

“It is frustrating to know that the courts have awarded me this money but because no records have been kept to show who insured my employer when I worked there I will be left with nothing.”

Compensation for asbestos related diseases

Dr Iddon added: “Sadly Mr Tetlow is one of many of my constituents who cannot receive compensation for their asbestos related disease because the employer’s liability insurer cannot be traced.

“Whilst there is a voluntary tracing scheme a recent report has shown it is not helping with the majority of cases. This is simply not good enough. I fully support the campaign led by Thompsons Solicitors, the asbestos victim support groups and the trade unions for an insurance fund of last resort.”

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors Ian McFall said: “Dying men don’t have time for the ABI to sort itself out. There should be an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau funded by a levy on the insurance industry that mirrors the right to full compensation that is available to people injured or killed by uninsured drivers.

“We welcome Dr Iddon’s support which is an important step forward in recognising that an ELIB is the most effective way to protect the rights of injured working people and their families.”

Information needed about Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited of Hill Mill, Astley Bridge, Bolton

Thompsons Solicitors’ call for a fund to mirror that which pays compensation to those injured by uninsured drivers comes after a recent review of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) voluntary tracing scheme. The review showed just 41% of enquiries to the scheme was successful with more than 7,000 enquiries failing to trace an insurer.

If anyone has any information about who insured Henry Crossley (Packings) Limited of Hill Mill, Astley Bridge, Bolton between 1950 to 1970 please contact Diana Fos on 08000 224 224.

This news story was also published by The Bolton News.