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Son Of Power Station Labourer Appeals For Information About Asbestos Exposure On Anniversary Of Dad’s Death

Asbestos Exposure In The 1960s Leads To Death of Dad


By Suzanne Rutter

The son of a former power station worker who died from lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure is appealing for any of his father’s ex work mates to help lawyers investigate where he was exposed to the deadly dust.

Malcolm James, from Filey in North Yorkshire, died aged 69 on 26 March 2009 after battling lung cancer, caused by asbestos exposure, for five months.

On the third anniversary of Malcolm’s death, his son John James, of Greenside Road in Mirfield, has now instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to help him in his battle for answers about where his dad was exposed to asbestos.

Throughout the 1960s Malcolm, who was nicknamed Blackjack by his colleagues, was a general labourer by trade and either worked for Sheffield-based scrap metal merchants Thos-W-Ward Ltd, know as Tommy Wards, or as a self-employed labourer, or ‘oxy-cutter,’ at power stations across Yorkshire where he was responsible for dismantling the turbine houses, boilers, chimneys and pipe work for scrap.

Ian Toft, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing John, said: “Malcolm’s family are still devastated by his death and desperately want answers about where he was exposed so they can honour his memory with the justice he deserves and finally come to terms with their loss.

“It can take several decades for lung cancer symptoms to develop and it can be very aggressive and debilitating for victims, which was sadly the case for Malcolm. We know that asbestos was routinely used in power stations to insulate boilers, chimneys and pipes so we believe Malcolm would have been heavily exposed due to the nature of his work.

“We hope as many of his ex colleagues he worked with either at Tommy Wards, or those he met through his work in power stations, will help us find out more information about his exposure to asbestos and what, if anything, was done to protect him.”

Malcolm, who grew up in Thornhill before he moved to Mirfield his early 20s, first started to show the symptoms of lung cancer in October 2008 when he started to suffer breathlessness and a persistent cough. He died after battling the illness for just five months leaving three children John his brother Lee and sister Pamela Hepworth plus seven grandchildren.

John, 48, also said: “It was terrible seeing my dad suffer so much towards the end of his life and it’s even harder to come to term with the fact his illness was caused by simply going to work every day about 50 years ago.

“We know my dad was exposed to asbestos while working at the power stations as he helped dismantle the industrial equipment and machines in the breaker’s yards but we don’t know exactly where or whether his employers warned him how dangerous it could be to his health.

“His work at the power stations was always very informal and sporadic – he would just join dozens of other self-employed labourers at sites across Yorkshire for short-term work, so his asbestos exposure could have been at any number of places.

“But dad was really popular and well known in the industry so we hope as many of the men he worked with will remember him and to help us find out more how asbestos exposure might have led to his death so that we can get him the justice he deserves.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Thos-W-Ward or at Yorkshire’s power stations should contact Ian Toft at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 218 6453 or email ian.toft@irwinmitchell.com.

For more information about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in Lung Cancer claims.