Devon Man Wins Battle For Justice After Hazardous Asbestos Exposure

Experts Help Victim Secure Settlement


A former Devon engineer, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive asbestos related cancer, after he was regularly exposed to the lethal fibres throughout his working life in the telecommunications industry, has won his battle for justice.

Frederick Vincent (76) from Torquay in Devon received the heartbreaking news that he had contracted the fatal condition mesothelioma earlier this year, on the same day he and his wife, Jean celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr Vincent was awarded a five figure interim payment in the Bristol High Court on 19th October 2011. In addition, the High Court Judge entered a judgment against British Telecommunications Plc for their part in negligently exposing their employee to asbestos dust. He gave 30 years loyal service to BT. 

Specialist industrial disease lawyer, Helen Grady from the Bristol Office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who represented Mr Vincent commented: “Even in the 1960s and 70s employers knew of the risks associated with asbestos and the dangers of inhaling lethal fibres.

“Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer for which there is sadly no cure. Although it can take upwards of 20 years from exposure to onset of the illness, once diagnosed it can be very aggressive and painful.

“Frederick’s condition was preventable and sadly, no amount of money will restore his health, but the settlement will at least provide Frederick and his family some financial security.”

Mr Vincent said: “I started off as a Telegram Boy for the Post Office in Torquay when I was 15. I worked from 1950 to 1953 and then again for BT as an installation engineer between 1962 to 1989 and regularly came into contact with asbestos. 

“I was responsible for conducting the monthly fire drills and as part of this had to shake out the asbestos blanket. I had a motorcycle too which I used to deliver the telegrams. I remember it had asbestos brake pads and I often blew the white asbestos fibres from the back wheel. As an installation engineer I spent a lot of time in the telephone exchanges in the Devon area where a lot of asbestos was used for fire insulation purposes. I had to drill through a lot of asbestos insulation board to get to the telephone wires. I worked near a lot of asbestos lagged pipe work”.

Between 1959 and 1962 Mr Vincent was exposed to more asbestos whilst working for a major employer in Paignton, Standard Telephones and Cables.  It is understood there was a great deal of asbestos in this factory, particularly in the sub floor area where all of the old pipe work was lagged with asbestos which was crumbling and in poor condition.  He would have brushed past the extensive lagged pipework and inhaled airborne fibres. 

Now, he and his family, including daughters Alison (47), Gesine (37) as well as five grandchildren, are all trying to come to terms with the shocking news that he has an aggressive cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Mr Vincent added: “I was told about my diagnosis on my 50th wedding anniversary and my wife, Jean and I were devastated. I used to come home from work with dust on my overalls and in my hair but I had no idea how serious this would end up being. 

“My symptoms first appeared around November 2010 when I started to suffer from breathlessness. An x ray revealed that I had a build up of fluid on my lung.

“I have not had any chemotherapy as this is not a cure and I am worried about the side effects. I am trying to enjoy some quality time with my family, but I’m very aware this will now be cut short.

“The interim payment I have received will go towards private nursing care and any equipment that I will need as my illness progresses and we may need a car so that Jean can drive me to my medical appointments. We have also used the money for house alterations and gardening/tree removal so that everything is left as maintenance free as possible for Jean.

“I do hope that what happened to me serves as a warning to other workers and, in particular employers; that health and safety regulations are there for a reason and should never be ignored.”

Helen Grady added: “Mr Vincent’s case is continuing but he is secure in the knowledge that he will receive a financial settlement which will at least ensure that he will be able to purchase the care and equipment which he may need due to his illness and he has the comfort of knowing that his wife will be financially secure going forward.”

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.