Former motorbike racer exposed to asbestos as an apprentice wants compensation paid out for pleural plaques

A pensioner who said he was exposed to asbestos as an apprentice wants the government to reinstate compensation for a disease caused by breathing the substance in.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 12:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 12:58 pm
Billy Ingham 70, worked with asbestos in Leyland when he was an apprentice. He now has pleural plaques, which is caused by asbestos exposure, and ANCA vasculitis, a lung condition

Billy Ingham, 70, of St Helier’s Place in Barton, has pleural plaques, a condition that does not cause cancer but can cause breathlessness, coughing, 
and chest pain.

In 2007, the House of Lords ruled people with the condition would no longer qualify for compensation. Payments were later reinstated for those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not for those in England and Wales.

Mr Ingham, who used to race bikes in the Isle of Man TT, has now urged MPs to debate the issue, and said: “We have gone 11 years since the law lords made their decision and it should be looked at by 

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Billy used to race bikes in the Isle of Man TT

Mr Ingham said he also has anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibodies (ANCA) vasculitis, which one study has linked to the breathing in of “silica” dust from soil, sand, and cement.

But Dr Lesley Rushton, chairman of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), which decides which diseases go on a list of conditions for which compensation is paid to sufferers, said evidence of a link between ANCA associated vasculitis and asbestos exposure was “extremely sparse”. He said: “The council has looked at the published evidence for silica and ANCA vasculitis and concluded, as with asbestos, that the evidence is not robust enough for a definite conclusion to be drawn.”

He said the compensation for pleural plaques “is not within the remit of the council”, but added: “Pleural plaques are not covered by the industrial injuries scheme due to their benign nature; they do not become cancerous and are also not a cause of cancers such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.”

In the petition to the Welsh Assembly and the House of Commons, Eddie Gilbertson from the National Asbestos Helpline Support Group (SWASG), said: “To put it shortly, pleural plaques are an indicator of potentially serious health problems in the future. Diagnosis means that people with previous asbestos exposure can feel great anxiety about what their future holds, and can even alter some-one’s state of mind.

“When you are told you have asbestos fibres in your lungs - no matter how serious the related condition - it’s frightening and isolating. What does is mean for your health and future, and the future of your family? It is for these reasons that I wanted to set up the SWASG, and I am now bringing forward this petition.”