Government refuses to overrule Lords’ judgment as pressure builds

MPs are set to hold crunch talks with Justice Secretary Jack Straw in a last ditch attempt to overturn the Lords ruling on pleural plaques.

The government released a parliamentary answer this week saying it would not legislate to ensure victims received compensation, despite growing clamour in Westminster.

Almost 50 MPs are demanding the government legislate and said the fight was not over.

Leading on the issue, MP Michael Clapham said: “This is extremely disappointing and I realise the difficulty in overturning the legal challenge.

“But we will continue fighting and meet Jack Straw to explain we had middle-class judges ruling on a working-class issue. People will not get justice unless it is overturned.

“If it is reversed we know the insurance companies will fight us all the way.”

Clapham again called for insurers to co-operate and be partners in a scheme for pleural plaques.

The ABI rejected the proposal, but said it was working closely behind the scenes with claimant bodies to ensure mesothelomia victims were adequately compensated.

In a written parliamentary answer to MP Jim Sheridan, Justice Minister Bridget Prentice admitted the government would not overturn the ruling.

Prentice said: “The House of Lords considered the issues very thoroughly on the basis of all the evidence put before it and reached a unanimous decision.

“Having considered the judgment very carefully, the government has decided that it would not be appropriate to legislate on the issue.”

Justin Jacobs, director of liability, risk pricing, motor and property at the ABI, said he was confident that the issue of legislation would not be explored any further in Westminster, despite a lack of understanding on the part of ministers.

He said: “Despite widespread mis-understanding and misinterpretation

of the issue, the government has acted quickly and sensibly.”

In an attempt to assuage their anger, Jacobs said the ABI had been in direct communication with MPs.