Grandfather Seeks Former Colleagues After Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Industrial Illness Lawyers Supporting Ex-Council Worker In Asbestos Investigation

23.05.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A retired grandfather of six is searching for his former work colleagues to help with an investigation into asbestos exposure after being diagnosed with lung cancer caused by the deadly dust.

Leslie Armstrong, 67, from Gateshead but now living in Darlington, has asbestos-related lung cancer and believes he was exposed to the dangerous substance while working as an electrician from the 1960s to 1980s.

He has now instructed expert industrial illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office to help in his battle for justice against his former employers and to find out how he came to be exposed to such a dangerous substance.
 
From 1960 to 1976 Mr Armstrong worked at Barkers Electric Services Limited as an apprentice and then a qualified electrician carrying out work in the areas of Gateshead and Newcastle.

He then moved to Gateshead Borough Council where he worked as an electrician until 1988 when he did the same role for 10 years at Cleveland County Council until it disbanded and he was transferred to Stockton Borough Council.

Isobel Lovett, a specialist industrial illness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Armstrong said: “Asbestos-related lung cancer can cause so much devastation. But because it can take decades from exposure for the symptoms to develop, it can be difficult to trace the insurers of the companies involved.

“Through no fault of his own Mr Armstrong was exposed to asbestos with inadequate or no protective breathing equipment even though employers knew of the dangers of the deadly dust.

“We are asking people who worked at Barkers Electric Services Ltd, Gateshead Borough Council and Cleveland County Council to get in touch as they may be able to provide information to help Mr Armstrong in his battle for justice.”

Mr Armstrong said he remembers working in public buildings such as schools where asbestos was present throughout his career.
 
He said: “I would go in to re-wire the buildings working either in confined floor or ceiling spaces close to pipework which was lagged with white insulation we later found out was asbestos. We ended up covered in loads of dust and my hair was matted, my work clothes and my face were covered and when I came out of the space there were visible clouds of dust falling off us.

“I was never warned that I might be harmed by breathing in asbestos dust and was only rarely given a small face mask – although in one school we were working in a Health and Safety representative sent us home and shut the school until specialists had removed the asbestos. He even told us that the protection we were given weren’t effective enough – until then we had no idea of the dangers.”

Leslie developed asthma in the mid 1990s and found that he was having regular chest infections from around 2000.  But over the next 10 years they became more frequent and more painful. In October 2012 he underwent a series of tests and scans and was given the devastating news he had lung cancer which may have been caused by asbestos exposure. 

He had an operation to remove his lung in December 2012 and is due to speak to doctors to find out if he needs to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy. 

Leslie, who has been married to wife Linda for 24 years, has one daughter from a previous marriage and Linda has two sons, while between them they have six grandchildren. He says his illness has really hit the family hard in the past few months.

Leslie added: “I’m pretty much stuck at home at the moment as I feel unwell all the time. Before I was ill, I used to walk Linda’s son’s dog twice a day and my wife and I would go out to Gateshead to visit our family there.  I used to have a very active life but now I rely on Linda to help me so much around the house, even with simple things such as putting socks on.

“Hopefully people will come forward and contact Irwin Mitchell with information so that we get answers as to why I was exposed to asbestos at work while the dangers were known.”

Anyone who has any information should call 0191 279 0104 or email Isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Asbestos-Related Illness claims.