Posthumous Victory For One Of The ‘Wombwell Scaffolders’
Lawyers who secured judgment for the family of a Barnsley man who died from asbestos-related disease have joined his stepson to warn of the ongoing dangers of the substance.
Leslie Walton died age 79 on 14 April 2016, just months after a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lungs associated with exposure to asbestos.
This month, Irwin Mitchell secured judgment and an interim payment of damages, against BET no 68 Ltd (formerly Deborah Services Ltd) after the case was dropped by another law firm - just six weeks before expiry of the three year limitation period within which the claim must be filed at court.
Stepson Kevin Hardcastle said the news would have meant a lot to the man who was ‘like a father’ to him. The family wanted Leslie’s story to warn others about the risks of asbestos, as the UK marks the 20th anniversary of the ban on white asbestos in November 1999.
Kevin, from Wath-upon-Dearne, said: “It was a bit of a shock when the decision went our way after the case was dropped by another firm. The Irwin Mitchell team has been fantastic and we will put the settlement monies to good use. It is just a pity Leslie did not live to see it.
“It was awful to see Leslie’s condition deteriorate so rapidly. My wife and I did all we could to support him, as he was like a father to me and had always helped me out. His case mattered so much to him and if it alerts others to the dangers of asbestos, I know it would have given him a lot of satisfaction.”
One of the Barnsley men known as the ‘Wombwell Scaffolders’, Leslie, was employed as a scaffolder/scaffolding labourer for most of his working life. He regularly came into contact with asbestos lagging during work in power stations and 20 years since the ban on asbestos, the risks remain.
Expert Opinion“Leslie was wrongly exposed to asbestos dust in his working life. Nothing can bring him back but I’m pleased to have been able to secure this victory for his family and see justice has been done in Leslie’s memory.
Twenty years since the ban, public awareness of the danger asbestos poses has declined. Yet with many buildings still containing the substance, the risk remains high. We need to take every opportunity to raise awareness of asbestos and help others recognise potential causes of related diseases such as mesothelioma.” Simone Hardy - Senior Associate Solicitor
The news comes as a new report by the ResPublica think tank suggests UK children are exposed to more asbestos than in other countries.