The Royal British Legion has launched a campaign to highlight the unfair compensation rules that apply to veterans who develop Mesothelioma from working with asbestos during their service.

The UK charity for British armed forces, reservists, veterans and their families has begun the campaign to change the way veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma are compensated.

Under the current compensation rules, veterans who develop Mesothelioma from working with asbestos during Service can be left £150,000 worse off than their civilian contemporaries.

Due to the current compensation laws, veterans who have been exposed to asbestos and developed Mesothelioma are at an unfair disadvantage.

How veterans are losing out

In 2014 the Government set up a scheme called Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme, where compensation would be paid in a lump sum to civilians who have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma but are unable to trace their former employer or insurance company.

But unfortunately these laws prohibit veterans from claiming compensation from the Ministry of Defence for injuries or illnesses sustained before 1987. Veterans with Mesothelioma are only allowed to claim war disablement pension, which is a yearly instalment of just £31,000.

The introduction of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme highlighted the short life expectancy of people who have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, as people with the illness usually die within the two years – meaning that veterans may only receive £62,000.

At the start of November Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to review the way veterans diagnosed with Mesothelioma were to be compensated.

Rhod Palmer’s story

Commodore (Rtd) Rhod Palmer, 62, worked in the Royal Navy as an air engineering officer for 34 years and was diagnosed with Mesothelioma earlier this year. He has also been told by doctors he has only months to live.

Rhod worked on old Royal Navy Ships where asbestos was common in the boiler rooms, used as insulation and for lagging pipes.

Mr Palmer spoke of the current treatment of veterans and said he feels let down: “It just doesn’t seem fair that civilians can claim more. If the Government has a military covenant, they need to stick to it. Ultimately they need to practise what they preach. One should be given the same deal as what civilians are offered.”

Many ex-Service personnel like Rhod have been exposed to asbestos when working in the boiler rooms of naval ships and independent experts are predicting that as many as 2,500 British Naval Veterans are likely to die as a result of Mesothelioma between 2013 and 2047.

Government update

Tory party member David Mackintosh MP has fully supported the Royal British Legion’s campaign and will be discussing the way veterans with Mesothelioma are compensated.

Mr Mackintosh said: “I agree with the Royal British Legion that veterans who have developed Mesothelioma as a result of their service should receive fair and appropriate compensation, and should be able to choose between a traditional War Disablement Pension or one off compensation and I hope the debate on 19th November will bring this fight a step closer to being resolved.”