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Landmark hearing could reveal vital background to asbestos epidemic

In the Supreme Court this Monday, 18th February, judges will hear an appeal that could result in important information about asbestos exposure in the UK made available to the public.

Former asbestos giant Cape Intermediate Holdings will appeal against earlier court decisions that the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum should be given access to documents disclosed in an earlier case between Cape and insurance companies, which the Forum believes will reveal how much Cape actually knew about the dangers of working with their asbestos products, which includes asbestos fibre board, Asbestolux.

The Forum was not part of the original court case in which the documents were disclosed, but argued that the release of the documents was in the public interest because it would help dying mesothelioma victims pursue compensation claims against the company. The Forum has agreed to make the documents publicly available if they obtain them.

These records would also help explain how the asbestos epidemic in the UK, an avoidable man-made disaster, was allowed to occur.

Cape has battled for two years to prevent the documents being disclosed to the Forum. Forum Chairman Graham Ding estimated that more than 5,000 people will have died from mesothelioma in the UK during that time.

"This is not just a matter of historical interest," he said. "People are dying today because they worked with Cape products and many more will die in the future. They deserve to know why."

Image credit: Christine Smith [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

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