TUC Northern asbestos support group throws its support behind a local law firm


In support of sufferers of asbestos-related illnesses and by invitation only, national law firm Simpson Millar has joined a TUC Northern support group as a recommended legal provider.

Asbestos exposure can lead to deadly illnessesThe Northern Trades Union Congress (TUC) launched the Asbestos Support Group on the Workers Memorial Day, 28 April 2010. The group is based at the Wallsend People's Centre and provides advice, support and practical assistance for individuals and families who have been affected by asbestos related illnesses.

As 13 people die each day from incurable asbestos related lung cancers , the group now recommends 3 of the country’s leading law firms to help secure compensation for those who have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Northern TUC Regional Secretary, Kevin Rowan said:

"The North East has a proud shipbuilding history but in its wake came a legacy of serious illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos. Today around 5% of the UK’s population lives in the North East but 10% of all asbestos victims are found here. "

"Many people die while waiting for compensation which they are legally entitled to; compensation that could improve their quality of life or, if nothing else, help secure the future of their family. These are the people we try and help and I am confident that the law firms we work with such as Simpson Millar can play their part in doing that."

"By recommending a select group of law firms which we have vetted and scrutinised, we help prevent asbestos victims falling victim to unscrupulous lawyers that profiteer from the misfortunes of vulnerable families and seriously ill people."

Peter Watson, managing partner of Simpson Millar commented:

"As the number of people diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses continues to rise, insurance companies are increasingly appealing court decisions or simply outright refusing to pay compensation to seriously ill people – sometimes with only months left to live."

"The Industrial Disease Team at Simpson Millar is at the forefront of the campaign for the rights of victims of asbestos and will continue to fight their corner tooth and nail."

Simpson Millar is one of only 3 firms recommended by the Northern TUC’s Asbestos Support Group; the other 2 being Thompsons and Beecham Peacock. A lawyer in Simpson Millar’s Gateshead office and Local Councillor Allison Chatto has also joined the asbestos support group committee to help asbestos victims.

The Asbestos Support Group is managed by Pat McKeown and Maggie Fitzsimons, who work full-time to provide advice about welfare benefit entitlement, help with applications for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and other benefits – sometimes even supporting claimants at benefits tribunals if necessary.

"The thing people appreciate most is simply the support we give," said Maggie. "Because of the nature of asbestos poisoning, the majority of cases we see are men in their 70s and 80s who have often seen friends and relatives die from the same disease so are understandably frightened. Form-filling and legal issues are daunting at the best of times so we’re around to help shoulder some of that burden and hopefully relieve part of the stress."

Anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition is urged to call the TUC Asbestos Support Group on 0191 200 7198, or a contact specialist law firm as soon as possible to investigate whether they might be entitled to compensation regardless of whether their former employers are still in business.


In its first year, the TUC Northern Asbestos Support Group has helped 119 people.

The vast majority are from communities on the banks of the Tyne, Northumberland and Gateshead and more than half used to work in shipyards.

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