A GROUP of veteran tunnellers who claim they have contracted a crippling bone disease from working in compressed air have effectively lost their right to sue for damages in England.
Earlier this week a judge overturned an earlier decision which had cleared the way for the Clyde tunnellers to sue in the English courts.
But it now looks like they will have to seek compensation within the Scottish legal system, where they fear it will be harder to obtain legal aid.
It has been more than 30 years since they worked on Glasgows Clyde tunnel, hand-digging solid rock in compressed air.
Together with another group who worked on Newcastles Tyne tunnel during the same period, they say they have now contracted bone necrosis.
The disease causes joints to stiffen and seize up and is caused by inadequate decompression.
In September, the Clyde tunnellers started a legal action against Kier CB (formerly known as Charles Brand and Son).
Legal aid has proved to be a major stumbling block for many of the men, who do not have the means to pursue costly claims without financial assistance.
Michael Gara, who chairs the Clyde Tunnellers Association, said: This is a blow.
We just dont know if they will grant legal aid for us in Scotland.
Solicitor Terry Lee, who is acting for the group, said: We are obviously very unhappy about the decision and we are considering our options now.