Mesothelioma sufferers and their families in the North East are calling for fairer compensation for asbestos related disease.

Members of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Self Help Group are asking for the level of bereavement compensation paid to families of mesothelioma victims in England and Wales to be increased in line with payments currently made in Scotland.

The group, which has 50 members from across the region, is backing Thompsons Solicitors’ campaign, Justice for Asbestos Families.

Cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos

The solicitors, who have an office in Newcastle, have highlighted an injustice in the way compensation for bereavement is awarded to families who have lost a relative to mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos.

The campaign comes after it was revealed families in England and Wales are receiving tens of thousands of pounds less in compensation than their counterparts in Scotland.

Bereavement Compensation

In England and Wales compensation for bereavement is set at £10,000 by law and is only payable to the spouse of the deceased. In Scotland payments up to £30,000 have been made to bereaved widows.

Not only widows but other family members in Scotland also receive bereavement compensation of between £10,000 to £15,000 each.

The campaign calls for a change in the way bereavement payments are assessed so families across the UK are treated equally.

Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Self Help Group

Members of the self help group, set up by Wallsend widow Chris Knighton to provide help and support to those touched by the disease, feel so strongly about the cause they have written to their local MP and have signed an online petition.

They are also set to approach the All Party Parliamentary Asbestos committee to put across their views on the issue.

Chris said: “Our members feel very strongly about this injustice. This issue affects every one of us and hundreds more across the North East. Why should the grief and sorrow of families in England and Wales be treated any differently to our neighbours in Scotland?

“We will do everything we can to support this campaign in order to make bereavement compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families fair throughout the UK.”

Thompsons Solicitors call for a change in the law

Thompsons head of asbestos policy, Ian McFall said: “This campaign is intended to benefit families affected by mesothelioma, like those who attend the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Self Help Group. We welcome their support.

“£10,000 is a derisory sum for the grief caused by the death of a close family member. Whole families suffer terribly when they lose a loved one to mesothelioma. They carry the emotional burden with them the rest of their lives.”

We are calling for a change in the law in England and Wales to give families the right to act against a sense of grievous injustice.”