A Somerset woman is to receive compensation from the Ministry of Defence following her husband’s death from cancer – caused by his coming into contact with asbestos on board Royal Navy ships.
Mary Phillips of Leigh upon Mendip, Somerset, won her claim after her husband, William died in September 2010 at the age of 72.
William Phillips retired in 1997 after a long career in the Ministry of Defence. He started an apprenticeship at the Portsmouth Dockyards in 1954 and there was considerable asbestos on the deck and bulk heads of the boats.
Mrs Phillip’s solicitor, Brigitte Chandler of Swindon law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall and one of the UK’s leading experts in asbestos-related claims, says that many MoD staff who worked on Royal Navy ships were exposed to asbestos.
“The claims are being settled by the MoD as they were well aware of the dangers of asbestos,” said Brigitte Chandler. “The dangers have been known since 1900 and since then there have been almost annual reports, warning of the dangers of asbestos but they were not acted upon in time by the Royal Navy.
“Mr Phillips was never given protective masks or clothing. Yet during his career in the Navy he would have walked through boiler rooms and engine rooms full of asbestos.”
Mr Phillips worked on several ships at Portsmouth including HMS Agincourt, an old destroyer which had to be modernised. The decks over machinery spaces were covered with asbestos that had to be pulled out. In 1964 he was moved to MoD headquarters in Bath to work as a draughtsman. In the mid 1980s it was discovered that asbestos lining had been used in the offices.
In May 2006, Mr Phillips developed pleural plaques on the lung and three years later developed mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by asbestos. He started the compensation claim against the MoD but died before it was finalised.
“Unfortunately, asbestos disease can take up to 60 years to develop,” added Brigitte Chandler. “The number of asbestos deaths is rising and is expected to peak over the next few years. Anybody who has had exposure to asbestos and developed symptoms should seek urgent medical advice.”
The Swindon and South West Asbestos Group is a regional charity which provides support groups and a free advice service to people suffering from asbestos disease and their families.
For further information contact Brigitte Chandler on 01793-511055 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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