Widow Of Former Joiner Appeals For His Ex Colleagues To Help In Her Battle For Justice

Lawyers Help Investigate How Dad-Of-Two Died Was Exposed To The Deadly Dust

24.04.2014

The devastated widow of a joiner who died from an asbestos-related disease which he believed was caused by exposure to the deadly dust whilst working with three firms in Scotland is appealing for his ex colleagues to come forward with information about the working conditions he endured.

George William Davidson, of Oxgangs in Edinburgh, died in November 2010 aged 83 after suffering from the debilitating illness, mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs, for just two months.

Before his death George told his wife, Margaret, he remembered coming into contact with asbestos while working for Alexander Hall and Son Builders Ltd between 1963 and 1964, James Blake Ltd between 1964 and 1965 and Bett Bros Ltd between 1970 and 1971. All companies were based in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh and now operate under different names.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-four recalled cutting and breaking up asbestos sheets with electric saws and hand tools as part of his daily work, which created a dirty and dusty environment.

Margaret, age 85, has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell Scotland who are helping her in her battle for answers about whether more could have been done by the three firms he worked for between 1963 and 1971 to protect him.

Laura McCallum, at Irwin Mitchell Scotland’s Glasgow office representing her, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like George who worked in the building trade where asbestos was regularly used. Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure, despite knowing how dangerous it is.

“We hope that George’s former co-workers will come forward to help answer the many questions Margaret has about her husband’s asbestos exposure as well as what measures, if any, were in place to protect employees like him. It’s important that we now help Margaret honour George’s memory and get him the justice he deserves.”

George first started to show symptoms of mesothelioma, such as breathlessness, just eight weeks before he died. Doctors initially thought he was suffering from a chest infection and gave him antibiotics. He went back to his GP on two further occasions before he was referred to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where further tests and scans showed he was suffering from the asbestos-related disease.

Margaret said: “George’s career as a joiner always involved working in such dirty and dusty environments and he regularly came home covered in the powdery white substance.

“It’s devastating to think he suffered such a terrible illness simply because he went to work every day all those years ago. The illness robbed him of his health and quality of life so quickly I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing him like this.

“I really hope his ex work mates will now help the team at Irwin Mitchell Scotland investigate the conditions he worked in so I can finally get him the justice he deserves.”

Irwin Mitchell Scotland has also warned that George’s family could miss out on justice under the new Mesothelioma Bill proposed by the government. A scheme to help mesothelioma sufferers has been put forward but it excludes people who were diagnosed before 25 July 2012, which means many will not qualify.

Laura McCallum at Irwin Mitchell Scotland added: “In some situations it is impossible to find evidence of victims’ employers’ insurance records where firms have ceased to exist for many years. While the government has tried to address this issue with the promise of a scheme to help those who cannot trace an insurer, the law only applies to people who were diagnosed with mesothelioma, after 25 July 2012, which will leave hundreds of asbestos victims high and dry.

“There is also a suggestion that the amount provided to people will be around 70 per cent of the average compensation for mesothelioma victims. This doesn’t take into account that every case is individual and the needs of each person and family are completely different.

“It’s important to remember that this is only the tip of the iceberg and there is an ongoing government consultation which is attempting to force the remaining mesothelioma cases to run under a portal scheme which would mean a further impact on access to justice for victims.

“Mesothelioma cases by their very nature are complex, often going back 40 to 50 years and involving detailed investigations.

“Victims have faced many legal challenges in recent years. This is yet another one. What they really deserve is full and fair financial security for their families – not to be fed into an automated process which will short change innocent victims, which is what is certain to happen if the Government continues to follow this agenda.”

Margaret added: “I am appalled that the Mesothelioma Bill will simply not provide for many thousands of victims and their families, including us.

“Rather than helping families affected by asbestos, it is robbing us of our final chance to gain justice and financial security.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Alexander Hall and Son Builders Ltd (Now Hall & Tawse Ltd) , James Blake Ltd (Blakend Limited) and Bett Brothers Ltd (Bett Homes) should contact Laura McCallum at Irwin Mitchell Scotland on 0141 300 4083 or email laura.mccallum@irwinmitchellscotland.com.