Man Who Spent 40 Years Working For ICI Appeals To Ex-Colleagues After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyers Investigating Asbestos Exposure


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

A Middlesbrough man who dedicated 40 years of his working life to Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) is appealing to his former work colleagues for help after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos decades previously.


Harold Norman Barrett, 76, was diagnosed with the disease, which affects the lining of the lungs, in February 2016 after suffering from shortness of breath.


He has now instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, which recently moved to a new consulting office in Middlesbrough, to investigate how and where he came into contact with the asbestos that caused him to develop mesothelioma.


Harold, a widower who lost his wife Mary in 2011, told his legal team that he believed he came into contact with asbestos while working for ICI. He spent 40 years working for the firm at its Billingham and Wilton plants, as well as the North Tees Oil Refinery.


He started out as a labourer with the company in 1955 and he was required to assist a number of tradesmen at the ICI plants, including welders, platers and plumbers.


Harold recalled that he would be required to lay out asbestos blankets on the floor to help contain sparks while assisting welders. He said he was also required to fold and store the blankets and that his hands would often be covered in dust and fibres afterwards.


The 76-year-old said that in the seven years he worked at the ICI Billingham plant, between 1955 and 1962, he was never provided with any protective equipment or warned of the dangers of handling asbestos products.


From 1962 until 1978 Harold worked at the ICI Wilton plant as a Process Operator in the plastics plant, before moving to ICI’s North Tees Oil Refinery.


Harold worked at the refinery in Stockton for 17 years until his early retirement in 1995 where he was required to monitor the pressure and flow of ethylene gas.


He recalls the pipework in the plant was lagged with asbestos and that this would be regularly maintained and repaired. Harold said the lagging would be knocked off the pipework and that he would be required to clear up the debris, which caused asbestos dust and fibres to be released into the atmosphere.


Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer, said:


Expert Opinion
“Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease that can cause a great deal of pain and suffering for victims, like Harold, who have been exposed to asbestos.

“Sadly, we see many cases like Harold’s, where people have dedicated much of their working life to a company only to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease after they have retired. Harold is understandably looking for answers about his exposure to asbestos and to find out if more could and should have been done to protect him from inhaling the harmful substance.

“The illness has had a huge impact on his daily life and he is determined to get the answers he deserves. We hope those who worked alongside him during his 40 years at ICI will come forward and provide us with the information we need about the presence of asbestos at the sites, as well as details of the safety measures, if any, in place to protect staff.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner


Since Harold was diagnosed with mesothelioma he has undergone chemotherapy and due to the disease and treatment struggles to enjoy his hobbies and relies heavily on his sister-in-law and carers for a number of everyday tasks.


Harold said: “I had always been fit and healthy and was enjoying playing golf in my retirement. Sadly, that has all come to an end now as the mesothelioma has knocked me for six and I struggle to catch my breath and suffer long periods of pain.


“I have now come to rely on my late wife’s sister and carers for help around the house. I feel extremely angry that I was exposed to asbestos during my time at ICI and I’m determined to get the answers I need about my exposure there.


“To do that I need help from my former colleagues and I hope they will come forward and provide the information my legal team at Irwin Mitchell needs to ensure those responsible are held to account.”


Anyone with information on the presence of asbestos at ICI’s Wilton and Billingham plants, or at the North Tees Oil Refinery, should contact Emma Tordoff on 01642 246915 or email

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.