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Devastated Widow Takes Important Step In Legal Battle Following Husband’s Sudden Death

Specialist Industrial Disease Lawyers Issue High Court Proceedings Against Newcastle Man’s Former Employers


James Clarke, Press Officer | +44 (0)161 838 3169

A devastated Walker woman has taken an important step in her battle for answers concerning how and why her husband was exposed to asbestos, which caused him to develop mesothelioma.

Brenda Allen, 68, from Walker, Newcastle, lost her husband of 48 years, William James Allen in August last year, less than five months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to harmful asbestos dust decades before.

Shortly before his death, William, who was known to his friends and family as ‘Billy’, instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate where he had been exposed to the harmful asbestos dust that had caused him to fall ill.

Since his death, his widow Brenda has continued to fight for answers and her legal team have now issued court proceedings against two of his former employers; Imperial Tobacco Limited (W.D. & H.O. Wills) and Busways Travel Services Limited.

Billy worked at Imperial Tobacco Limited (W.D. & H.O. Wills), between 1969 and 1984, as a labourer and then a driver. The firm was a large cigarette manufacturer based on the Coast Road in Newcastle and, at the time of Billy’s employment there, was the only cigarette factory in the North East and employed thousands of people.

While employed as a labourer, Billy was involved with testing drill machines which would involve having to go into the subway underneath the factory. Before his death, Billy informed his legal team that the subway was an extremely hot and confined area, leaving it impossible to avoid the asbestos dust and fibres in there and not inhale them.

Brenda’s legal team would be interested to speak to any of Billy’s former colleagues from Imperial Tobacco Limited (W.D. & H.O. Wills) who might be able to provide further information about Billy’s exposure to asbestos at the cigarette factory.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are also keen to talk to any of Billy’s former colleagues from Busways Travel Services Ltd, now part of Stagecoach, where he was employed between 1986 and 1995, first as a shunter and then a fitter.

As a fitter, Billy believed he was exposed to asbestos when carrying out repairs or maintenance work to the vehicles, as old type brake shoes within the buses were all lined with asbestos. In order to replace or repair the brake shoe, Billy would have to remove the old lining of the shoe, including all of the asbestos dust.

Brenda, mother to Paul and Tony, said: “I, along with the rest of the family, am grateful for the continued support from Emma and the rest of the team at Irwin Mitchell as we continue to fight to get justice for Billy.

“Billy was an independent person and it was hard to see the illness take hold of him. It all happened so quickly that there was very little time to get answers or justice for him while he was alive.

“I urge any of Billy’s former colleagues to come forward with any details of the working conditions at Imperial Tobacco Limited (W.D. & H.O. Wills) or Busways Travel Services Limited during the time of Billy’s employment at either employer.”

Billy first began to feel unwell in January last year, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April. As his health deteriorated he was unable to do things he used to enjoy doing, such as gardening and building motor boats.

Emma Tordoff, the expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Brenda, said:

Expert Opinion
“It is disappointing that we have been forced into the position where we have had to issue court proceedings in our efforts to get answers for Brenda regarding Billy’s illness.

“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive, unforgiving, and sadly terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure decades before symptoms develop. All too often we see a case like this where workers spent time working in environments where they were exposed to asbestos dust and were not made aware, by their employers, of the dangers of asbestos dust.

“Anyone with information about working conditions at either Imperial Tobacco Limited (W.D. & H.O. Wills), or Busways Travel Services Limited, particularly anyone who may remember working with Billy, should contact us as soon as possible.”
Emma Tordoff, Solicitor

Anyone with information please contact Amber Connolly on 0191 279 0104 or email Amber.Connolly@IrwinMitchell.com.

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