Justice at last

October 17th, 2011

For the insurance companies trying to block justice for the victims of industrial disease, they finally ran out of track this week.

Two and a half years ago, the Scottish Parliament put through landmark legislation that entitled those with pleural plaques to pursue damages that were owed to them.

Pleural plaques is a scarring of the lungs that develops more than 20 years after being exposed to asbestos.

It has left many former heavy industry workers with a debilitating condition that can lead to fatal diseases such as mesothelioma.

But faced with pay outs totalling £20 million, the insurance companies refused to accept the will of the Scottish Parliament and used every delaying tactic in the book to avoid meeting their obligations.

So I was delighted when the appeals process was exhausted this week and the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Holyrood legislation.

While I was pleased to see justice finally delivered to those with pleural plaques, and glad to see the insurance companies get one in the eye, the news this week was tinged with a little sadness.

That’s because one of the key drivers in this campaign for justice wasn’t around to see this victory.

Frank Maguire, a solicitor advocate who devoted much of a stellar career to workers’ rights, was no stranger to the pages of the Greenock Telegraph, with his long-running Frankly Legal column.

I had worked with Frank for many years on this campaign, and many others, and I know how crucial his sharp legal mind was to this success, supporting the victims and the trade unions from the start.

He sadly passed away just a few shorts weeks ago after a battle with cancer and didn’t live to see this campaign come to an end.

So while I was delighted with yesterday’s ruling, and pleased for my many constituents who will rightly benefit, my thoughts were also with Frank’s family and friends still dealing with his premature loss.

But this successful fight for justice is fitting legacy to the hard work and dedication that Frank and the team at Thompsons had shown in getting us here.