ASBESTOS widow Jane Maitland has criticised the changes ministers want to bring in for civil compensation cases.

Mrs Maitland's husband William died aged 63 after a painful, year-long battle against mesothelioma, a cancer caused by breathing in deadly asbestos dust.

He had worked as a joiner on a number of Clyde shipyards for 30 years from the 1950s to 1980s.

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Mrs Maitland, 74, of Gourock, Inverclyde, said her husband should be alive today enjoying his retirement.

She said: "What these changes would do is diminish the importance of asbestos cases."

Mrs Maitland, a retired nursing lecturer who has a grown up daughter, won a three-year legal battle which she began following her husband's death in November 1998.

The reason she was able to take her claim was that she was entitled to be represented by an advocate - whose fee was paid by the other party when she settled out of court.

She said: "It was a stressful experience but it was made easier by knowing I had the very best lawyer and that I would not have to pay his fee whatever the outcome.

"If these reforms go through people may end up not only with poorer legal representation, they may also end up having to pay for a lawyer out of any damages.

"I took the case because I wanted justice for what had happened to my husband. I felt that if you do wrong in life you should have to pay."