An obscure corporate law which allows companies to trade in complete secrecy has been used to make the United Kingdom one of the world’s biggest traders in asbestos, which kills more than 100,000 people every year.
Despite asbestos being banned in the UK for the past 20 years, several British-registered companies, including one in Scotland, are responsible for shipping hundreds of thousands of tons of the deadly mineral every year to some of the world’s poorest countries, where it is still used in construction and engineering.
They include companies which are limited partnerships (LPs) which are permitted to operate without paying taxes, publishing accounts or declaring publicly who owns them. In 2015, a single UK registered company was responsible for shipping almost half of all the asbestos mined in Russia, the world’s biggest producer.
In light of the Sunday Times’s findings, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, a member of Westminster’s all-party group on occupational health and safety, is to raise the issue of limited partnerships in the Commons this week, demanding urgent action to restrict their ability to trade in secrecy….Carlos Alba
Action on Asbestos was asked to give a response:
As Scotland’s largest charity, representing many 100’s of Scottish families who have lost loved ones to asbestos disease, we are appalled to learn that a company registered here in Scotland is trading in this killer dust.
This vile trade in asbestos has cost the lives of tens of thousands of British men and women and left a legacy of generations of devastated families. To think that a British registered company is profiting from this global epidemic of asbestos disease is an outrage.
How can it be that the import and export of asbestos have been banned in the UK since 2000 but companies registered in the UK are free to profit in death? This horrifying situation must be addressed as a matter of priority. Clydeside Action on Asbestos
The World Health Organisation estimates that “……currently about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. In 2004, asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis from occupational exposures resulted in 107,000 deaths and 1,523,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). In addition, several thousands of deaths can be attributed to other asbestos-related diseases, as well as to non-occupational exposures to asbestos”.
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