Last call for steelworkers to get justice

Ravenscraig Steel Works pictured in 1980
Ravenscraig Steel Works pictured in 1980

Former British Steel workers suffering from life-limiting and debilitating respiratory diseases have until February 23 to register to join the group taking legal action.

The action comes after hundreds of people developed conditions including pulmonary disease, bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer and skin cancer, which could have been caused by exposure to harmful fumes from coke ovens.

The deadline, which was set by the High Court in October, follows its approval of a group litigation order (GLO) in January 2017, which was presented by specialist industrial disease lawyers from Hugh James, based in Cardiff, and Irwin Mitchell.

The GLO was applied for after these firms were approached by more than 340 former coke oven workers suffering health problems.

The law firms are keen for people affected to contact them before the deadline on to make sure they don’t miss out on access to justice.

Since the deadline was set, Irwin Mitchell has seen an increase in enquiries from those who worked at Ravenscraig.

The son of a former British Steel Coke worker is part of the group action to try and ensure he, like the other victims involved, gets justice and answers over why they, or their relatives, became ill.

Hugh Kennedy worked at Ravenscraig for 25 years as a guide man, heater man and then plant supervisor between 1957 and 1982.

His son Alexander said: “It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch dad suffer so much from his symptoms, especially after he had lost mum.

“To find out his illness was caused by the fumes he was exposed to at work, due to the lack of protection put in place by British Steel, made us all very angry.

“Hopefully, now the legal action will provide all the victims and their families the justice we deserve.”

Insurers for British Steel have already admitted it was in breach of its duty from 1947 until appropriate respiratory protection was provided.

Roger Maddocks, a partner and expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Nothing can turn back the clock, but this legal action will hopefully provide them with the help, support and treatments needed to make dealing with their illness more comfortable.

“With the deadline quickly approaching, we would urge anyone else who feels they were affected by the working conditions at British Steel to come forward.”

For details call Amber Price at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0111 or e-mail