Local asbestos cancer sufferers were offered a reprieve from planned Government cuts to legal aid last night, as the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment which protected the compensation rights of victims of the disease.

Local MP Jon Cruddas says the "fight goes on" to protect local asbestos victims

Barking and Dagenham has one of the highest rates of the disease in the country, and the news will be greeted with relief by campaigners on the issue locally.

The Government's Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders' Bill aims to cut £350 million a year from the legal aid budget. But, under the changes planned by ministers, mesothelioma victims stand to lose out because of a change in who pays their solicitor.

Because of the amendment put forward by the House of Lords however, the Government will have to reconsider its policy proposal.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas welcomed the development but said that the fight was still on to protect asbestos cancer sufferers from Government cuts.

He said; "It's great to hear that local asbestos cancer sufferers have been given a reprieve from these unjust Tory-led cuts.

"I find it offensive that the Government continues to lump in sufferers of the terrible industrial disease mesothelioma with those it's targeting as part of its attack on the ‘compensation culture'.

"Here in Dagenham and Rainham we have a rate of the disease almost twice the national average, so this is big news for our local area.

"The battle goes on to stop this unjust policy reform. Be under no illusions, this Government will try to push this through again, but we have a duty to fight for local sufferers."