Family’s Asbestos Warning After Ministry Of Defence Admits Liability Following Rare Goldsmith’s Mesothelioma Death
A widow is warning of the dangers of asbestos following her husband’s death from cancer caused by playing at a disused RAF base as a child.
Adam Phillips died aged 65, from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Adam, who was a rare goldsmith and watchmaker whose skills were on a ‘critically endangered list’ had instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness. However, following his death Adam’s wife, Marie, took on his case in his memory.
Adam’s legal team has now secured a substantial six figure settlement from the Ministry of Defence in connection with his illness. It admitted liability after it was established that Adam came into contact with asbestos while playing as a child at former RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.
Following the settlement, Marie has spoken out on the terrible impact mesothelioma had on Adam and what his loss has meant to the family.
Expert Opinion“As a boy playing with friends on an abandoned airfield, Adam had no idea of the danger he and his friends were exposed to.
“Cases like this reveal the terrible impact asbestos exposure can have years after the event and that for many people, they were not in a position to recognise the risk at the time.
“We have dealt with many cases over several decades of people exposed to asbestos from living next to asbestos factories, but this case is particularly unusual as Adam’s exposure to asbestos came when he was a child simply playing outside.”
“Adam and Marie had so many plans for their future but these have been dashed by his death. While no settlement can ever make up for this, Marie hopes that by speaking out, some good can come out of Adam’s death and act as a reminder of why safety regarding asbestos remains such an important issue.” Emma Guy - Chartered Legal Executive
Before his death, Adam explained that as a child, he and his friends spent a lot of time playing on the derelict MoD site at RAF Bovingdon, near to where the family lived. The site was built in 1941 for use during the Second World War by Allied bomber units and remained in use until its closure in 1972.
Adam and his friends would play around the semi-circular Nissen Huts on site, constructed from asbestos panels, pulling off parts and smashing them to the ground releasing asbestos dust. The boys would also bring their go-karts to the site and Adam recalled crashing into the huts, causing more asbestos dust to be released, covering the children in the process.
There were no warnings of asbestos on site, no ‘keep out’ signs and no fencing to prevent local children using the disused airfield as an adventure playground.
A goldsmith and watchmaker by trade, Adam’s abilities were so rare, they featured on the 'critically endangered skills list' with less than five people in the UK left with his knowledge.
Adam had a son Ben, his wife Gisela and their children, Adam’s grandchildren Anna and Samuel.
After developing various symptoms, including coughing and shortness of breath, Adam went to see his GP and following tests, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2017.
Adam went on to undergo chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, and initially responded well to the treatment. He was doing well until the spring of 2021, when his health declined rapidly and he died in July 2021, surrounded by his family.
Marie said: “The time from Adam’s diagnosis to his decline and death were devastating. It all feels like yesterday and it’s hard to believe a year has passed since I lost my husband and my best friend. All our plans for our future are now in ruins and I’m not sure either me or the family will ever fully get over it.
“It’s terrible to think that something as innocent as playing as a child all those years ago could lead to such suffering. Adam was a good man and didn’t deserve to see his life ended in this way and through no fault of his own, spend his last years in facing pain and treatment.
“Mesothelioma is such a terrible disease and I know Adam would want some good to come of his death. Hopefully by sharing Adam’s story, we can warn others of the dangers of asbestos and that even today, people still need to be aware of the risks.”