Newcastle Office Worker Appeals For Help In Asbestos Investigation

Specialist Industrial Disease Lawyers Seeking Woman’s Former Colleagues To Help Shed Light On Working Conditions

04.04.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A former office worker from Newcastle, now living in New Zealand, is appealing to her former colleagues in the North East to help with an investigation into asbestos exposure during the 1950s and 1960s after being diagnosed with the terminal cancer mesothelioma.

Margaret Digby, (nee Graham), 77, now lives in Auckland, New Zealand but grew up on Cedar Road, Fenham, with her bus driver father and seamstress mother and worked in Newcastle for more than 10 years.

Margaret was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, in March 2013.  The terminal disease is caused by exposure to harmful asbestos dust and fibres decades ago and she has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office to investigate how and why she was exposed.

Margaret left school in 1952 aged 15 and began working as a Sales Ledger at British Paints Limited at Brittanic works on Portland road until 1958. The mother of two and grandmother of two believes she could have been exposed to asbestos here due the fire risk that the paint factory posed.

She then moved on to work at J.T. Dove Limited building merchants based on Orchard Street as a Sales Ledger and Wages Clerk between 1958 and 1964 before moving to New Zealand in 1965. The firm stocked asbestos sheeting and other products for the construction industry which she may have come into contact with when visiting the warehouse. Also some products were cut to order creating dust which she may have been exposed to.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are looking to speak to both her work colleagues at J.T. Dove and customers of the firm during the 1950s and 1960s.
 
Roger Maddocks, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office representing her, said:

Expert Opinion
Mesothelioma is a terrible illness which is often associated with tradesmen or heavy industry. But Margaret’s tragic story shows how widespread the problem of asbestos was as she was an office worker throughout the 1950s and 1960s but was clearly exposed to enough harmful asbestos that she is now suffering the consequences.

“Because mesothelioma takes decades to develop, it can be difficult to investigate and we are urging anyone who worked with Margaret or who worked at these companies at the same time – or even customers who visited the factories - to help us with our enquiries.

“Margaret is paying the price for simply going to work every day. Employers knew the risks of asbestos at that time but sadly many did not do enough to protect their workers.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

Margaret’s daughter Janet Digby, from New Zealand, said: “It was a huge shock to us all when mum was diagnosed and the whole family has been hit hard by this awful news. She has always been a great walker, and now can’t make it up the very slight hill to the house. This means her independence has been significantly curtailed and she is reliant on the family to take her out and to her many chemotherapy and oncology appointments she needs.

“She and my father used to go on trips with a local club but she is unable to do this anymore because there is almost always walking involved and as she gets very tired. She has been very brave throughout, and didn’t hesitate to try chemotherapy. She wants to try anything just to spend as much time as possible with her twin grandsons who are now nearly three years old. 

“She was just an office worker and it never crossed her mind that she might be in danger from asbestos exposure. I just hope people will be able to come forward and help with the investigations.”

Anyone who may be able to help with information about the working conditions at British Paints Limited or J.T. Dove Limited during the 1950s and 1960s can contact Roger Maddocks on 0191 279 0095 or email roger.maddocks@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Mesothelioma Claims.