‘Behind closed doors’ deal between government and insurance industry comes to light

Reposted from Left Foot Forward

Mesothelioma sufferers and their families must come before the profits of insurers

Asbestos ncrjIn a move which flies in the face of democratic politics, the Tory- led government has struck a ‘behind closed doors’ deal with the insurance industry – one which, if implemented, would boost the profits of the multimillion pound insurance industry at the expense of people dying from the fatal asbestos disease, mesothelioma.

The cynical, secret deal was exposed following a Justice Select Committee evidence session in May at which I gave evidence.

The extraordinary confidential document is now published on the Parliament website, against the wishes of the insurance industry body, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), who fought and failed to block its public disclosure.

When the government introduced The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) to Parliament in April last year, mesothelioma claims were exempted from the Act’s requirement that claimants pay legal costs. But following a ‘sham’ review, the Ministry of Justice announced last December its decision to remove the exemption.

Both the government and the ABI had attempted to present a package of consultation proposals as measures to make the compensation claims process quicker.

But as I explained to MPs on the Justice Select Committee, prior to the document coming to light, I believed that a deal had been done between the government and the insurance industry which tied the industry to funding the Mesothelioma Act 2014 – in return for the government delivering substantial and long-term savings for an industry that makes millions of pounds a year, on the back of those suffering from terminal illness.

James Dalton, the head of Motor and Liability at the ABI who gave evidence after me in that same session, was asked repeatedly by John McDonnell MP whether such a deal had been done. Following Mr Dalton’s evasive answers, McDonnell concluded: “I think we’ll take that as a yes.”

Just days after the Justice Select Committee session, the ABI revealed to the Committee chair, Sir Alan Beith MP, that a deal had in fact been done, but sought to prevent its disclosure. The document, now published on the Parliament website, sets out full details of the deal. The version now on the Parliament website is not – as the original was – marked with a ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ stamp.

The document clearly details commitments from both the ABI and the government in respect of mesothelioma claims. Interestingly, the industry commitments within the document are four in number whereas the government commits to deliver ten actions for the industry.

The document lays out the details of an ‘indivisible package’ in which the insurance industry’s main delivery is of funding for the Mesothelioma Act 2014, and in return the government undertakes to deliver various reforms including the review of removing the mesothelioma claims exemption under the LASPO Act.

Lifting the mesothelioma exemption will bring considerable savings to the insurance industry at significant cost to mesothelioma claimants.

That one part of the financial services industry can, through its huge lobbying resources and the power of its political donations, influence government policy to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable people in society is chilling.

Aside from its implications for dying mesothelioma sufferers and their families, this deal raises serious questions about how open this government really is.

How many other secret deals on key areas of policy have been made or are taking place between a major commercial instructions and this so-called modern democratic government?

Thompsons Solicitors has represented tens of thousands of victims of industrial diseases including many who are living out a death sentence or have died, because their employers sent them to work in places in which they were negligently exposed to asbestos.

We will continue our campaign alongside victims’ support groups and trade unions for greater transparency around the relationship between the ABI and the current government. The revelation of this secret deal shows we have to long way to go as a society if we are to stand up for, and put the interests of mesothelioma sufferers and their families before the profits of insurers.

Ian McFall is national head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors

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10 Responses to ‘Behind closed doors’ deal between government and insurance industry comes to light

  1. Sam says:

    The link to the document is not working – can you repost it? Thanks


  2. nollyprott says:

    It was OK with Attlee and Churchill after WW2 but perhaps they deliberately gave the info on the Atom bomb & Rolls-Royce Jet engine to Russia as an insurance policy against Yanks like Patten who wanted to continue the war and fight Russia. And even if Attlee’s obsession with rationing let Churchill in but he developed the H bomb the Yanks wouldn’t give us and they wouldn’t back us over Suez but even then they built all the V bombers and Blue Streak and English Electric Accrington was fully tooled up ready to start production on TRS2. The Beechin plan probably lost the Tories the election plus perhaps the Perfumo scandal was a deliberate leak to Russia but Frost rubbed it in and he made all his money in the US.

    The Tories biggest mistake was to go for dieselisation of BR to save money when fuel costs were based on pre Suez prices and steam costs based on the old Victorian stuff where you had to dig the fire out and rake the ashes towards you and clean out the smoke-box. Riddles range of BR standard steam loco’s solved that and they were using roller bearings which may have been less effective because they were lubricated with oil and it was later found grease was far better.

    They had to stop Labour and CND in 1959 so the original modernisation plan was dumped and big orders for diesels put in like marginal Loughborough where the Brush works got an order for 263 but despite the chassis being good and with a Mirlees engine made light with an aluminium crankcase still had to be 6 axel to meet the civil engineers load and even after that they ignored the wheel diameter/load ratio,

    Beechin knew the track replacement .would bankrupt BR and they had already had to close the key Teesside Barrow line over Stainmore in 1958 due to Bellah viaduct designed by Booch of Tay bridge fame ! They had already put in orders to dieselise the entire 1962 network which Wilson should have cancelled the diesels but the Unions would never have allowed it so we couldn’t afford defence and Wilson had to close most of the secondary lines anyway.

    Heath tried to sort it but perhaps child abuse made him join the EU and Wilson new what would happen hence the referendum and No lost due to key man being Tony Benn.



  3. Graham Cordwell says:

    Tax avoiding big business and high profilers, criminal banks, secret deals, lies, deception, enforced poverty, culpable homicide and ethnic cleansing, paedofile cover-ups and abuse of parliament = ConDems. They must be thrown out at the next election!

    PS. The link to the document doesn’t work. Has it been removed or blocked? Wouldn’t surprise me, but it should be widely read!


  4. jaypot2012 says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    Yet more corruption on the back of very ill people…


  5. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is truly scandalous, as it reports a secret deal between the insurers and the government. The government was to remove the exemption of those suffering from mesothelioma, a disease contracted through exposure to asbestos, from cuts to legal aid. The fact that such a deal was formulated behind closed doors, and repeatedly denied by ministers before the document was finally published, shows that this government is most certainly not interested in either the disinterested legislation. It also gives the lie to any claim that the government is keen to promote transparency in lobbying.


    • Methusalada says:

      I thought that it was normal City of London business arrangements that dealt in the profits of death ! They do have their own style of Government that has lasted before King Tut the 9th. More importantly they did invent a pyramid with its cycloptic all seeing eye of brotherhood & mankind for a few.


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