Asbestos compensation claims could be denied by Companies House move

Plans that could deny asbestos-related cancer sufferers compensation from employers have been branded a disgrace by the founder of a Fife charity.

Julie MacDougall said that plans by Companies House that could see details of defunct businesses deleted after six years could deny justice to anybody suffering from life-threatening conditions contracted in the workplace.

Ms MacDougall, the daughter of former Central Fife MP John MacDougall, has called on the government agency to maintain its database, which currently keeps business information for 20 years after dissolution.

Having founded the John MacDougall Mesothelioma Trust following her father’s death from the condition in 2008, she said that workers could be denied justice if the plans were passed.

“It is simply a disgrace that Companies House wish to delete these crucial records after 6 years. Why has it become so important to do this now?

“Sadly we know mesothelioma deaths have not yet reached their peak, therefore these vital records should be left open and transparent so the companies who are responsible can be held to account for their negligence which has left families in utter devastation.

The information held in these records is potentially the only form of justice that may be offered to victims and their families. The government has a duty to ensure Companies House retain these records. Workers and their families at the very least deserve some form of justice”

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops in the lining that covers some of the body’s organs. It has been linked to asbestos exposure and more than 2,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with the condition every year.

Aged 60, Mr MacDougall passed away in 2008 following a long battle with mesothelioma, having worked in the shipyards before entering politics. Since then, Ms MacDougall has campaigned for increased research in to the illness, which has proven hard to treat.

Neil Sugarman, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, has also voiced his concerns by the plans, adding:

“Victims of asbestos-related disease mesothelioma are dying because of exposure at work as far back as the 1980’s”.

Some of those companies who exposed their employees to asbestos are now likely dissolved and the records would be deleted under the plans.

“Without a record of the original company entity, workers and their families may never see justice be served.”

A Companies House spokesperson confirmed that a review would consider the retention period for all UK business records.