Mesothelioma Diagnosis Leaves Retired Mill Worker In ‘State Of Shock’


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

A retired mill worker who has been left in a ‘state of shock’ after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos decades ago, has instructed expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he was exposed to the deadly substance.

Bernard Clarke, 71, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire was diagnosed with the disease in December 2014 after suffering from shortness of breath for six months, which caused him to suffer a fall in his home.

He believes he may have come into contact with asbestos dust and fibres decades ago during his time as a mill worker and he is now appealing to his former colleagues to come forward with the information he needs to get answers about how he was exposed to the substance and why more was not done to protect him.

Bernard, who also suffers with primary lateral sclerosis, a form of Motor Neurone disease, believes he was exposed to asbestos between 1960 and 1964 when he worked for John Dickinson & Co Limited in Apsley, Hertfordshire.

He worked in a number of roles at the company during his five-year apprenticeship, before moving into the stationery department where he repaired envelope manufacturing machines. He recalls that the machines were often steam powered and the pipework was lagged with asbestos, which would often be disturbed and released into the atmosphere during maintenance and repair work.

Bernard recalls the asbestos lagging being in a poor condition and that it was easily disturbed, creating a very dusty working environment.

From 1964 until 2005, Bernard worked at Staverley Lapointe, which was also known as Marbaix Lapointe and Lapointe Ltd, in Watford, as a section leader of the Broach Planning and Estimating Department.

During his time at the company he recalls maintenance staff replacing bulbs in the office and that this would often cause dust to fall from ceiling tiles above workers.

Phoebe Osborne, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive, and sadly, incurable form of cancer that kills more than 2,500 people in the UK every year.

“Sadly, many of those suffering with mesothelioma were exposed decades ago as they were not informed of the dangers of asbestos”. Bernard and his wife Sheila are understandably devastated by Bernard’s diagnosis and want answers about how he was exposed and to find out if more could have been done to prevent him coming into contact with the deadly substance.

“We would urge anyone who worked alongside Bernard at John Dickinson & Co Limited and Staverley Lapointe that has information on the presence of asbestos and the safety measures in place to protect workers, to contact us.”
Phoebe Osborne, Solicitor

Bernard, a father-of-two, said: “I have been in a state of complete shock since my mesothelioma diagnosis and it has also had a huge impact on my wife, Sheila, our children and grandchildren.

“At the moment I’m coping around the house but I’m extremely worried about what the future holds for us as my condition worsens and my health deteriorates. I can’t help but feel our retirement together has been taken away from us and to find out my mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos has left me extremely angry.

“Hopefully my former colleagues will come forward and provide my legal team with the information they need about working conditions at John Dickinson & Co Limited and Staverley Lapointe so we can get the answers we need about my exposure.”

Anyone with information on the presence of asbestos at John Dickinson & Co Limited and Staverley Lapointe should contact Phoebe Osborne on 01223 791 821 or email

Our expert mesothelioma lawyers will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.