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Veterans secure compensation for asbestos cancer

Dozens of veterans dying of cancer were awarded six-figure payments after a ruling was overturned that saw them treated worse than civilians with the same condition.
More than 60 servicemen who were exposed to asbestos during their time in the military will benefit, though some have only months left to live. The changes were made after a campaign by the Independent newspaper raised awareness of the way veterans were disadvantaged compared to others with mesothelioma, who had received significant lump sums.
Some of the veterans were exposed to asbestos many decades ago, in the 1950s and 1960s. However, former service personnel who suffer from illness or injuries that were caused before 1987 are unable to sue the Ministry of Defence for compensation under existing rules – unlike civilians, who can sue their employers or apply for government compensation. Pressure from the Independent’s campaign prompted the Prime Minister to look into the matter personally. Previously, service personnel suffering from mesothelioma would only have been eligible for their weekly pensions.
Approximately 2,500 naval veterans are likely to die from mesothelioma in the future, having been exposed to the asbestos that was used to insulate boiler rooms on naval vessels. It is an aggressive form of cancer but typically goes undetected for many years; after diagnosis, most people only live another one or two years, at most.

All veterans suffering from the condition will be eligible for a £140,000 lump sum pay-out. Veterans Minister Mark Lancaster had instructed the Veterans Agency to contact all those they knew of with immediate effect and I would hoped the payments would be made promptly.

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