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Plumber Seeks Justice After Being Diagnosed With Asbestos-Related Cancer

Law Firm Seeks Former Colleagues To Help With Investigation Into Deadly Dust Exposure


A former plumber diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis almost two decades after his retirement is appealing for former colleagues to help provide information in his search for answers as to why he was exposed to the deadly material.

Widower George Cliff, from Bishop Auckland, was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis in 2011 after a 50-year career in the plumbing industry.

Industrial Illness experts at Irwin Mitchell representing the 84-year-old believe his illness may have been caused by prolonged exposure to the deadly dust throughout his career working for Spoors Limited of Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland; Stockton Plumbing & Heating Company Limited; and Longbeck of Thornaby.

George said: “It is a bitter pill to swallow when you find out you have an illness because of all those years spent working with asbestos, having been given no warning or protection against its dangers from my bosses.

“I would think nothing of using a trowel to scrape off the old, loose asbestos lagging on pipes and boilers because I had no idea it was dangerous. I would then use two full bags of asbestos powder when replacing lagging after the plumbing was completed. It makes me shudder to think how much dust I inhaled while mixing it.

“Although I retired in good health, this exposure to asbestos has now caught up with me and I am facing a battle against lung cancer because of the poor safety where I worked.”

George began working for Spoors Limited, a heating and engineering company, in 1942 after leaving school at the age of 14, initially as a trainee plumber, and would carry out jobs at army camps in Barnard Castle.

Work at the camps included removing asbestos lagging from boilers in order to carry out repairs, and also reapplying asbestos insulation after the work was completed.

George worked for the company for 28 years, regularly working in many asbestos-lagged boiler houses in various schools and factories.

After leaving Spoors in 1970 to work for Stockton Plumbing and Heating Company, George was subcontracted to work for two months at ICI Wilton, installing pipes in the new offices blocks and chemistry labs under construction. He believes that the old pipes he was working with had asbestos lagging and this led to further exposure.

Finally, from around mid-1980, George worked for Longbeck and he believes he suffered exposure to the deadly dust again when working on a council building in Teesside.

Isobel Lovett, an expert in the Industrial Illness team at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “We believe George was regularly exposed to asbestos while working at Spoors, and also during his time at both the Stockton Plumbing & Heating Company and Longbeck.

“Asbestos-related Lung Cancer and Asbestosis have no known cure, and the symptoms can only be treated temporarily. The dangers of working with the substance were known well before he began his career, but his employers continued to put the lives of George and his colleagues in danger rather than deal with the presence of a deadly material.

“We urge anyone who worked at Spoors between 1942 and 1970 to contact us to help with our investigation, as any information they have may be of use. Similarly, we would like to speak to any of George’s former colleagues from the Stockton Plumbing and Heating Company between 1970 and 1984 and Longbeck between mid-1980 and 1992.”

Anybody who believes they may be able to help should contact Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0104 or email isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, our expert asbestos lung cancer claims team could help you claim compensation. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.