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U-Turn Brings Betty Relief

U-Turn Brings Betty Relief.

Byline: Simon Haworth Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), July 20, 2006

A Teesside widow whose husband died of asbestos-related cancer has welcomed the latest twist in Government thinking on compensation claims.

Betty Carter lost her husband Ronald, 57, to mesothelioma after he worked for decades in the docks in Wales.

Betty was among many relatives of mesothelioma victims devastated when the House of Lords passed a ruling in May which would have led to reduced compensation pay-outs.

But this week the Compensation Bill was amended by the Government to ensure that victims of mesothelioma will now receive full compensation.

Betty, of Vale Drive, Thornaby, was awarded just pounds 20,000 of a pounds 140,000 compensation claim. Now it is hoped she will receive her full entitlement.

She said: "I was disgusted when they said they would only pay pounds 20,000. I thought Ronald would be devastated to know that was all his life was worth."

Ronald died in June 2004 while fighting to claim the money from his former employers Mckinner and Brown and Lawrenceson Services.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Teesside accounts for one in ten of all deaths from asbestos-related diseases in Britain.

Head of Asbestos Litigation at Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle, Ian McFall has led the campaign to restore full compensation for victims.

He said: "This amendment by the Government means victims like Betty, whose cases were settled for less than they were entitled to, can now appeal to receive their full compensation."

For a long time the dangers of asbestos use were not widely understood, but the annual total of mesothelioma deaths has increased from 153 cases in 1968 to 1,862 in 2002. It is expected to hit 10,000 by 2020.

Betty has had to return to full employment as a carer since Ronald died in order to pay the mortgage and household bills.

She said: "During the last few months of his life Ronald suffered terrible pain all because he worked hard at his profession.

"He said to my children before he died not to worry because the compensation would make sure we would all be OK.

"But I'm a pensioner and I have had to return to work so I can pay the bills. He would be devastated if he knew."

Bridget Prentice, minister for the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said: "These amendments will mean proper compensation for thousands of people who contract this terrible disease because they were negligently exposed to asbestos."