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Tory leadership hopefuls urged to end ‘national shame’ of asbestos deaths

Party delays sending out ballot papers over security concerns

by Our Industrial Reporter @TrinderMatt

TORY leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were urged to end the “national shame” of asbestos-related deaths today.

The British Occupational Hygiene Society urged the winner of the race to be Britain’s next prime minister to “commit to a proper national plan” to combat the more than 5,000 fatalities linked with exposure to the toxic substance each year.

The demand, backed by the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection and the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management, comes after multiple calls from the TUC for asbestos to be eradicated from the thousands of schools, hospitals and offices where it is still present.  

The material, widely used for insulation and in other common products until the 1980s, is classed as carcinogenic, meaning it can cause cancer and other serious lung conditions when fibres are inhaled.

The groups slammed the government’s “wishy-washy” response to the danger and urged action to protect nurses, teachers and social housing tenants who are at increased risk of exposure to asbestos. 

“The government needs to have a proper joined-up strategy using research, tax incentives, communication, building control, the conveyancing system, technology and the opportunities arising from the greening of buildings,” said Jonathan Grant of the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management.

“Instead, the government’s plan is to use a handful of inspectors, a bit of social media and wishful thinking to move things on,” he charged.

It comes as the Tory Party confirmed today that the opening of its leadership ballot has been delayed amid fears hackers are planning to change members’ votes.

Ballot papers, originally due to be posted on Monday, will not now be sent out until later this week after changes prompted by warnings from the National Cyber Security Agency, part of national listening post GCHQ.

The original process would have allowed members to choose whether to vote by post or online and then, if they later changed their minds, use the alternative method to cancel out their previous vote.

But, according to an email sent out to about 160,000 party members, once a postal vote is received, members’ online codes will now be deactivated, “reducing the risk of any fraud.”

The ballot is set to close on September 2, with the result due three days later. 

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