On Friday 6th July I attended the Manchester Action Mesothelioma Day in Manchester City Centre. The day was arranged by Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and remember those who had sadly passed away.

Despite the torrential rain there was an excellent turnout all of whom gathered under a large marquee which somebody had the great foresight to bearing in mind the weather.

The atmosphere was friendly and many people discussed loved ones who had passed away. I spoke to a lovely gentleman whose wife had sadly passed away two years ago. He spoke passionately about the unfairness of mesothelioma and how it didn’t seem to affect some people who had been heavily exposed to asbestos but it had taken his wife who was a clerk in an office that produced asbestos garages.

Action Mesothelioma Day

how the Labour Party had campaigned to have mesothelioma victims exempt from the latest LASPO Bill which would them having to surrender up to 25% of their damages to solicitors to bring a claim if the changes to the current legal funding system went ahead.

Kathleen Ruff a Canadian asbestos campaigner and writer gave a fantastic talk on how the Quebec Government in consort with the Canadian Government are subsidizing the mining of asbestos to send to developing nations especially India and Indonesia. The Jeffery Asbestos Mine has been given a Government loan of $58 million dollars to recommence the mining of chrysotile (white asbestos). The asbestos will not be used in Canada but exported to developing countries.

It seems strange to us that a developed country such as Canada would wish to peddle the misery that has so blighted the industrial west for the last five decades. Asbestos unequivocally causes mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis to name just three of the dreadful ailments and diseases. As one MP pointed out it seemed strange that the developed West would spend billions trying to eradicate malaria and other diseases in the developing world only to replace them with a man made one.

Kathleen spoke of how they had evidence of small children in Indonesia being exposed to sacks of used asbestos that had been discarded.

Kathleen Ruff reminded me why as a lawyer it is important to stand up for what is right in the face of overwhelming odds and uncertain. Here was a woman who not only campaigning against big business she was also taking on the local and national and governments to end the worldwide trade in asbestos.

From a personal perspective the day was an extremely humbling occasion. The campaigning that is done by the likes of Kathleen Ruff and Anthony Whitson is exemplary. Sadly these events will continue to be held until these terrible illnesses have been eradicated.

Steven Evans