Heartbroken Widow Appeals To Ex-Colleagues For Information After Asbestos-Related Death

Expert Industrial Disease Lawyers Investigate Working Conditions At Bristol Companies


The devastated widow of a former Fire and Security officer who died of a debilitating asbestos-related illness is appealing for his ex-colleagues to come forward with information to help specialist lawyers investigate whether more could have been done to protect him from the deadly dust.

Barry Cleaves, from Knowle, in Bristol died aged 64 from mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lung, following a year-long battle with the disease, which is caused by exposure to the deadly dust found in asbestos.

His wife, Jean has now instructed industrial illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell in her battle for answers as to where her beloved husband was exposed to asbestos and why more wasn’t done by his employers to protect his safety whilst at work.

Barry worked for WD & H O Wills of Imperial Tobacco Group Ltd at their Bedminster, Ashton and Hartcliffe sites between 1970 and 1989 in Fire and Security Patrol. He was responsible for ensuring the factories were secure by patrolling them and the underground corridors which he believed contained asbestos.

Expert Opinion
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes significant distress to victims and their families. The only known cause of Mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos dust and it could have been avoided simply by being given appropriate protection.

“We hope that Barry’s former colleagues will be able to come forward with any information about the conditions at W D & H O Wills Member of Imperial Tobacco Group Ltd.

“The dangers and risks to health from exposure to asbestos dust have been known for a long time. The first Regulations to protect workers from inhaling asbestos dust were made in 1931 yet all too often we see workers and their families who have been left devastated decades later because they were not warned of the dangers or given the correct safety equipment.”
Phoebe Osborne, Solicitor

The father-of-two was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the end of 2011 following months of breathing difficulties after he suffered from a collapsed lung. He had a course of chemotherapy, but in April 2012, Barry and his family were told his condition was terminal and he sadly passed away just three months later.

Jean, 65, said: “Barry and I moved to Spain in 2002 to enjoy our retirement as we had worked all of our lives. He started to experience symptoms of a cough and breathlessness in August 2011 and soon after he suffered from a collapsed lung and was admitted to hospital for tests. Barry’s diagnosis devastated us and we decided to move back to the UK to be closer to our family.

“Mesothelioma is such a horrible illness and it shocked me how quickly Barry’s health declined, as before he started suffering symptoms he had been so active and we frequently went for afternoon walks together.

“I now hope as many of his colleagues as possible will help the team at Irwin Mitchell investigate whether more could potentially have been done by his employer to protect him from the dangers of asbestos so we can finally honour his memory and get the justice we deserve for losing him in such a terrible way.”

Anyone who has any information about the working conditions at W D & H O Wills Member of Imperial Tobacco Group Ltd between 1970 and 1989 is asked to contact Phoebe Osborne on 0117 926 1549 or email phoebe.osborne@irwinmitchell.com.