Former Shipyard Labourer Appeals For Help After Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Expert Industrial Disease Lawyers Investigating Exposure To Asbestos At Work


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

A former labourer who spent almost 30 years repairing ships at various sites in the North East has instructed specialist industrial illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate after he was diagnosed with lung cancer believed to be a result of his exposure to asbestos decades ago.

James Robert Errington, 75, from Willington Quay, Tyne and Wear, was diagnosed with the disease in January 2015 after suffering with shortness of breath.

He has now instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office to investigate how and where he was exposed to the hazardous substance during his working life and what steps, if any, were taken by his employers to prevent him inhaling deadly asbestos dust and fibres.

James, who lives with his wife Olga, 69, worked for Wallsend Slipway Ship Repairers Ltd from 1969 to 1971, before moving on to work at Swan Hunters Ship Repairers Tyne Ltd, where he stayed until 1972.

The majority of his working life was spent at Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd, which was later known as A&P Appledore (Tyne) Ltd and A&P Tyne Ltd, repairing ships at the company’s North Shields and Wallsend facilities. He worked for the company from 1977 until his retirement in 2004.

In his roles with these companies he spent the majority of his time working alongside plumbers in the boiler room and engine rooms of ships. He recalled that a lot of the repairs he carried out required him to work with pipework which was lagged with asbestos.

James told his lawyers at Irwin Mitchell that the asbestos lagging would often break up when it was removed and release fibres and dust into the atmosphere where he would breathe it in. He was also required to sweep up the asbestos dust on the floor at the end of repair jobs.

He also recalls asbestos lagging being mixed close to him and that masks to prevent exposure to asbestos were only provided later in his employment at the company.

James and his legal team are now appealing for his former colleagues at Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd who worked alongside James to come forward with the crucial information about how he was exposed to the asbestos which led to him developing lung cancer.

Roger Maddocks, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said:

Expert Opinion
“James’ diagnosis came as a complete shock to him, his wife Olga and his entire family. Understandably, they are devastated and want to know why more was not done to prevent him inhaling harmful asbestos dust and fibres many years ago.

“All too often we see cases like James’ where people go through a great deal of pain and suffering as a result of a lack of protection and information about the risks of asbestos in the workplace.

“We would like to hear from anyone who was employed by Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd, those who recognise James or anyone who worked alongside him repairing ships from the late 1970s to the early 2000s so we can seek justice for him and his family.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

James, a grandfather, said: “The diagnosis I received completely knocked me and my family for six and we’ve all been struggling to come to terms with the news and that it may have been caused by my exposure to asbestos at work.

“I am worried about what the future holds for us and we all feel very angry and upset that we are going through this terrible time through no fault of my own.

“It wasn’t until later in my career that we were provided with masks to protect us from asbestos dust, but it looks like this was too late for me and I am now paying a high price for simply going to work every day to provide for my family.”

Anyone who worked at Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd in North Shields or Wallsend and has information on working conditions there, the presence of asbestos and the protective measures implemented to protect workers should contact Katie Faulds on 0191 279 0142 or email