Family Of Former BP Employee Launch Enquiry Into Premature Asbestos-Related Cancer Death

Expert Asbestos Lawyers Appeal To Former Colleagues For Information

30.08.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

The heartbroken daughters of a grandfather-of-seven who died of an asbestos-related disease are appealing to his former colleagues to get in touch in the hope they can help the family with their enquiry.

Widower Leonard Luke, from Sandhurst in Berkshire, died aged 80 of mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to deadly dust, just six days before Christmas last year leaving his family devastated.

His two daughters have instructed asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help find answers about where he came into contact with asbestos and are now backing the firm’s requests for their father’s colleagues at British Petroleum (now BP Plc) to come forward.

Leonard worked at the company’s Sunbury research centre between 1955 and 1990 as a Petroleum Technologist in the Analytical Division.

Much of Leonard’s work involved Gas Liquid Chromatography which meant heating oil samples to very high temperatures and his family believe it is likely asbestos was used in the process for its fire and heat resistant properties.

Nicola Maier, an asbestos expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing Leonard’s family, said: “They have all been left devastated by their sudden loss and are looking for answers about where and why Leonard was exposed to asbestos dust. Following Leonard’s death they were surprised to discover the lack of awareness of this terrible disease.

“Leonard spent most of his employment working for BP and before he died he mentioned to his daughters that he remembered asbestos being used in various areas of the business.

“We are now working to investigate where and when he came into contact with asbestos and would benefit from speaking with his former colleagues who may have information about the conditions they worked in and working practices.

“Mesothelioma is an industrial disease for which there is sadly no cure. It is difficult to diagnose and does not usually develop until 30-40 years after the exposure to asbestos. Companies have been well aware of the dangers of exposing their staff to asbestos dust since as far back as the 1950s so there is no excuse for Leonard not to have been warned about inhaling the dust or provided with any protective clothing.”

Leonard began suffering from shoulder pain and breathlessness and a scan at hospital revealed he was suffering from mesothelioma in October 2012. He sadly died in *what* hospice just eight weeks later.

One of his daughters, said: “Dad had previously suffered a heart attack and stroke so when he suffered breathlessness and pain between his shoulders everyone thought it was probably all related.

“By the time he was diagnosed he was so weak he could barely stand and we knew something was seriously wrong.

“When we were told the diagnosis and the doctor asked Dad whether he had ever been exposed to asbestos we were in complete disbelief.

“Dad worked for BP for the majority of his working life and was completely loyal to the company. We were taken by surprise when a link between dad’s working life and asbestos was identified as a possibility.

“He went straight into the hospice so his pain could be managed and he had 24-hour care but sadly the cancer was very aggressive and he died just before Christmas, never able to return home.

“We are therefore interested to hear from any of his former colleagues and/or their families who may be able to help with any information, or who themselves may have any further questions.”

Anyone who thinks they can help is asked to contact Nicola Maier at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email Nicola.maier@irwinmitchell.com.

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.