Legion campaign secures win for veterans with asbestos-related cancer

The UK Government has extended eligibility for lump sum compensation pay-outs to veterans suffering with mesothelioma.

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All veterans living with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, as a result of their Service are set to receive lump sum compensation pay-outs as a result of a campaign spearheaded by The Royal British Legion.

In December 2015, the Government announced changes to its compensation scheme which meant that veterans yet to be diagnosed with the cancer could receive either regular smaller payments or a new one-off tax-free lump sum of £140,000 in line with arrangements for civilians.

While welcoming the announcement, the Legion continued to campaign for around 60 veterans who were not eligible for the new arrangements as they had already been diagnosed with the terminal disease.

Today, the Government has announced that the policy change will be extended to those already diagnosed with the illness. They will now be able to access lump sum payments to help them and their families cope with the disease. This will help to close the gap between the compensation which has been available to veterans and the much larger sums of compensation that have been available to civilian sufferers.

Commodore Rhod Palmer, a third-generation Royal Navy sailor, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2015. The 62-year-old was one of the veterans who stood to miss out on lump sum payments.

Welcoming today's announcement, Rhod said: "No amount of money will ever compensate sufferers and their families for a preventable death. However, it is a real breakthrough that the Government will treat all current and future sufferes of mesothelioma exposed to asbestos during their Service under comparable terms as civilians.

"This payment allows patients with mesothelioma to make arrangements to maximise their quality of life during this terminal illness and to support the family that they leave behind.

"The Royal British Legion has campaigned resolutely on behalf of military personnel who developed mesothelioma and I offer my sincere gratitude for its support. Looking to the future, I strongly encourage further funding of research into advancing the treatment of this devastating condition."

Commodore Rhod Palmer during Naval Service in 1996

Commodore Rhod Palmer during his Naval Service in 1996

Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said the Governmnet has "done the right thing" in changing the eligibility criteria for compensation pay-outs.

He said: "We are gratified that good sense has prevailed and that the Government has extended eligibility to those people who through no fault of their own were missing out on the new lump sum compensation payment.

"The Government has done the right thing and we appreciate the effort that has gone into accommodating the 60 people who were missing out. This has been a hard-fought campaign which began in 2013. To see the campaign finally reach this stage I'm sure will provide a huge sense of relief for dozens of proud Service men and women and their families.

"We are grateful to the Ministry of Defence for taking our campaign seriously and, in doing so, providing a fair result to all those who contracted this terrible terminal cancer in the Service of their country."

Legislative provisions will be made to enable lump sums to be paid from 11 April 2016.

Mesothehlioma is a particularly aggressive form of terminal cancer that affects the 'pleura' of the lungs, and which is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer can take decades to materialise but, once diagnosed, most sufferers will have a life expectancy of only one to two years.

Read more about the Legion's campaigns.

Media contact:
Tristan Nichols, Public Relations Officer, The Royal British Legion
E: tnichols@britishlegion.org.uk  T: 0333 011 4227 M: 07920 378 592

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