Serviceman’s Story Highlights Devastating Impact Of Asbestos Exposure

Former Royal Navy Officer Diagnosed With Mesothelioma


A former Royal Navy serviceman has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the chest lining caused by exposure to asbestos.

Trevor Moulden, who now lives in Newton Abbot with his wife Shirley, was born in Cricklade near Swindon, Wiltshire and served for 22 years on a number of Royal Navy ships and submarines as a Devonport rating. By the time he finished his service in March 1982 he had risen to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Mr Moulden recalls the presence of asbestos on board a number of ships and submarines he served with. He said: “I remember sleeping in hammocks underneath hot water pipes. These pipes were heavily lagged with asbestos and as part of our duties we were required to regularly rub these pipes down and re-paint them.

“During the 1960s I also worked on several ships that had been ‘moth-balled’ and had to help with stripping out parts of the ship which again meant I came into contact with asbestos dust as I swept and cleaned up after the laggers who had been on board to carry out the re-fit.”

Mr Moulden, who is married with two children and three grandchildren, was diagnosed with mesothelioma on June 10th 2010.

His wife, Shirley explained: “It was a terrible shock to find out that Trevor had an industrial illness and all the time he was working on board these ships he was breathing in lethal fibres which would take its toll on his health years later.

“We both try to take each day as it comes and stay positive. Last year he underwent chemo which was a dreadful time. Unfortunately his pain has returned and he is now undergoing further chemotherapy.  He is having his 2nd lot of chemotherapy today and if he can tolerate it, will have a further four sessions.  He suffers from breathlessness and night sweats, but he’s not the type to complain and to look at him you wouldn’t know anything was wrong.”

Sadly for Mr Moulden there is currently no civil legal redress against his former employers for the industrial illness he suffered. A claim has been successfully made through the Veterans Agency.  Civilians can bring a claim for compensation against their former employers for asbestos exposure and recently Crown Immunity was relaxed so that anyone in the Armed Services who suffered similarly could also seek justice. Crucially, however, the relaxation of Crown Immunity was not made retrospectively which means that anyone who was exposed but left the Armed Services prior to 1987 cannot pursue legal action.

Helen Grady, from the Bristol office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who has been assisting the Moulden family said: “This is a legal loophole which sadly is affecting a number of servicemen and women who are the innocent victims of industrial disease but who are left with inadequate Government compensation and are unable to bring a civil claim through the courts in their search for justice. 

“As there can be a delay of anywhere between 10 and 50 years, between exposure and the onset of symptoms, many servicemen like Trevor are only now making the terrible discovery that their health has been affected because of exposure to asbestos.

“Although nothing can turn back the clock for Trevor, we are determined to fight for justice for workers in the South West who are the innocent victims of poor workplace health and safety.”