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Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, Senior Partner of Thompsons Solicitors has criticised insurance companies who oppose legislation to reinstate pleural plaques victims' right to compensation.

Last year the House of Lords ruled that people with pleural plaques, a thickening of the tissues in the lung caused by asbestos particles, should no longer be able to claim compensation.

Clydeside Action on Asbestos led a campaign, backed by Trade Unions, MSPs and Thompsons to have the law reversed and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill pledged to introduce new legislation through the Scottish Parliament.

In submissions to the government consultation on the new legislation the insurance companies say the Bill would fundamentally change the law on compensation in Scotland.

They argue it would allow people to claim damages for exposure only, rather than physical harm.

And they are highly critical of Thompsons Solicitors who handle around 90% of the pleural plaques cases which are pursued through the courts.

Mr Maguire said: "The insurance industry has a shameful record of using the appeals system to try and change the law so they can weasel out of paying fair and just compensation to the victims of asbestos exposure.

"No-one should forget that the vast majority of asbestos victims were contaminated at a time when their employers knew the dangers of asbestos exposure but were too cynical and greedy to stop using it.

'Pleural plaques are the early warning signs of asbestos exposure, and at best the victims have to live with the crippling fear of it developing into incurable cancers like mesothelioma.

"Sadly in many cases those with pleural plaques go onto to develop these cancers and when that happens their life expectancy is two years or less."

"The House of Lords judgement which removed the right to compensation from pleural plaques victims was an absolute travesty, the sort of ruling that undermines the public faith in the justice system.

"The Scottish Government was absolutely right to commit to introducing legislation to reverse that shameful ruling.

"Perhaps the insurance companies are afraid that what is happening in Scotland now, will happen next in England.

"If so they have every right to be worried because the situation is as much of an injustice south of the border as it is here in Scotland".

Mr Maguire added: "Our efforts to help those suffering from pleural plaques are driven by principle not profit.

"We are also representing clients like Clydeside Action on Asbestos, the trade unions, and the victims themselves, when we campaign on this issue.

"The majority of Scots suffering from industrial diseases like asbestos related conditions turn to Thompsons because of the expertise we have built up by specialising in the very complex legislation covering these conditions".

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