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Keeping Others Safe Cost Joiner His Life

Family Begins Battle For Justice


The daughter of a Hartlepool joiner who helped build a series of American ships in the fifties and sixties hopes her father’s former colleagues can help in her fight for justice.

Thomas Allison died aged 88 in November 2010 of Mesothelioma caused by the asbestos dust to which he was regularly exposed whilst working in the shipyards over half a century ago.

Mr Allison worked for Furness Shipbuilding at Haverton Hill Shipyard from the early 1950s to the early 1960s. During his time at the company Mr Allison would be regularly exposed to the lethal dust as his co-workers applied fireproof coatings to the ships and as he would cut asbestos boards to size.

He had previously served in the RAF during World War II – he was a Leading Aircraftman and worked as a joiner.

Following his death Mr Allison’s daughter, Janice Royal, 62, has turned to Roger Maddocks, partner and industrial illness specialist at Irwin Mitchell, to help piece together the circumstances surrounding her father’s death. 

Janice said: “Before my dad’s death I remember him telling me how the American ships which he worked on would have ‘to be fully fireproofed’. This meant they had to be coated in asbestos which would cover him and the other men in its dust.

“I need to know why this was allowed to happen when his employers will have known the risks that they posing to their employees. His former employers should be brought to justice for the unnecessary pain and suffering which they have caused, not only to dad and my family but also to the many other families which have also been affected by their decisions to continue using asbestos.”

Roger Maddocks added: “Mr Allison worked hard throughout the years that he worked and it was through this that essentially cost him his life. In order to ensure that the ships his employers were building were safe Mr Allison and his former co-workers were, unknown to them, actually putting their own lives at risk and many will have paid the ultimate price for the contact to asbestos dust which they were exposed to.

“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure which causes great suffering to the victim and their families. Companies have a duty of care to protect its employees and once again, as our clients’ cases often highlight, Mr Allison’s former employers simply did not take the appropriate precautions to prevent its staff from inhaling the lethal asbestos dust.

“For Mrs Royal this case is not about the money, she wants to achieve justice in the name of her father who was so cruelly taken away from her and her family because of the job he did over 50 years ago.”

Roger Maddocks of Irwin Mitchell is interested in speaking to employees who worked for Furness Shipbuilding at Haverton Hill Shipyard in the 1950s and 1960s regardless of whether they directly knew Mr Allison.

Anyone who has any information should contact Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0095.

Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer of the lung lining (the pleura) which develops as a result of inhaling asbestos dust. It can take between 10 and 60 years to develop after exposure to asbestos. Victims suffer a painful death, on average, within a year or so of diagnosis. 

Unlike other asbestos related conditions it can occur after exposure to minimal levels of dust.

Currently almost 2,000 people die of Mesothelioma every year in the UK. The number of people suffering from Mesothelioma is expected to increase significantly over the next 10 to 15 years.

65,000 people are expected to die of Mesothelioma in the UK between 2002 and 2050, and 250,000 in Western Europe by 2035.