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‘Groundbreaking’ Decision In Eternit Trial Welcomed By Asbestos Expert

Two Former Company Owners Found Guilty In Italy


Asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a landmark ruling in Italy which has seen two former owners of an asbestos firm jailed over safety failings.

Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne and Stephan Schmidheiny have been found guilty in relation to conditions at four factories operated by their company Eternit, with prosecutors claiming that asbestos exposure at the sites have so far led to the deaths of 2,000 people.

There are now hopes among campaigners that the decision, which is a significant move to hold company owners to account over failings to properly manage the handling of asbestos, could set a precedent across the world.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist asbestos-related disease team act for workers who have developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the deadly material, as well as the families of those who have died as a result of such problems.

The experts also represent people who have developed asbestos-related illnesses through living with family members who worked closely with the material and those who have come into contact with it in public buildings including schools and hospitals.

Adrian Budgen, expert in asbestos law at leading law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “For asbestos victims and their families in Italy the outcome is extremely welcome news. Although nothing can ever make up for what they have suffered and lost, to some extent justice has been done.

“We hope that this groundbreaking trial will help set a much needed precedent for positive change here in the UK. It’s totally unacceptable that anyone should be left with a fatal illness because their health was not protected at work – and we will continue to fight for justice for asbestos victims and their families who are the victims of this dreadful disease.”

Tony Whitston, Chair of the Forum of Asbestos Victims Support Groups in the UK, told the Daily Mirror: "For the thousands of asbestos victims in the UK, there is no justice.

“Despite having the highest incidence of asbestos cancer mesothelioma worldwide, not one executive of our large asbestos producing firms has faced criminal charges for thousands of asbestos deaths in the UK.”