January 21, 2019

Justice for Newcastle former labourer diagnosed with asbestos-related illness

A shipyard labourer diagnosed with mesothelioma says “justice has been done” after lawyers secured him a six-figure settlement

A shipyard labourer diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer after being exposed to the deadly dust during his career has won compensation.

John Canham, from Shieldfield, Newcastle, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, in January this year after suffering from shortness of breath. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the terminal cancer.

Asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell negotiated an undisclosed six-figure settlement for John from three companies he worked for which will help cover the cost of care as his condition deteriorates. It will also provide some financial support for his family in future.

John said he feels he feels “justice has been done”.

The dad-of-two added: “I remember when I used to fit steel plates to the boilers which were already lagged with asbestos; the handsaws we used got covered in dust and as we worked in such as confined space, there was no way of avoiding the dust.

“My colleagues and I were never given any protective clothing or masks whilst we worked with asbestos and I was also never warned about the potential dangers of inhaling the substance.

“It was devastating for my family and I to find out years later that this exposure to asbestos had made such a horrific impact on my health and the illness has completely changed my life. We are all anxious about what the future may hold but I am grateful to have the support around me from my loved ones.

“The settlement will be a big help financially when it comes to my care and will help support my family to look after me and help me to battle on against this incurable disease and it does feel like justice has been done as my former employer should have done something to protect me and my colleagues from this.”

John worked as a labourer at various shipping yards and engineering firms in the North East.

Isobel Lovett, an asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for John and his family as they have had to come to terms with his illness, which has seen his health rapidly decline.

“As the delay between exposure to asbestos dust and the onset of symptoms of mesothelioma is more than 30 years in most cases, people like John are only now discovering their health has been affected as a result.

“Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer for which there is sadly no cure. Unfortunately John’s case is not isolated and it’s always sad to learn of such exposure to asbestos when, even in the 1960 and 70s employers knew of the risk associated with the dangers of inhaling the lethal dust.

“No amount of money can make up for the illness John has, but the settlement will provide him and his family with some financial security for the future.”

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Justice for Newcastle former labourer diagnosed with asbestos-related illness

Teesside asbestos legacy exposed as councils set aside millions to compensate workers

By Alan Selby

Teesside’s ongoing asbestos legacy has been exposed after it emerged councils have set aside millions to compensate workers.

The extent of the impact being felt years after council workers were exposed to asbestos was revealed after the local authorities were forced to put aside funds worth nearly £3m for claims this year.

And a solicitor who helps asbestosis sufferers said the number of people coming forward is expected to keep rising over the next few years.

Roger Maddox, of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, added: “It starkly illustrates the continuing legacy of asbestos liabilities, which are a direct consequence of employers who negligently exposed employees to asbestos dust.”

Redcar and Cleveland Council has earmarked £2.5m to deal with industrial claims this year, while Middlesbrough Council’s fund totals £252,600.

Stockton Council has similar arrangements in place, but could not provide an accurate total for asbestos-related funds.

The councils were told they must make cash available after the High Court confirmed employers who exposed workers to asbestos were liable for damages, not whoever was employing them when their cancer later developed, as insurance companies had argued should be the case.

But because the Municipal Mutual Insurance company (MMI), which covered industrial claims against councils, had gone into administration, local authorities must now pay for legal action out of their own reserves.

Some 17 former employees are currently pursuing Redcar and Cleveland Council after contracting mesothelioma, the cancer that can develop up to 60 years after contact with asbestos dust.

Norman Pickthall, cabinet member for corporate resources at Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “Because of the complex nature of asbestos-related illnesses and the significant sums involved, the council has allocated £2.5m to deal with any future compensation claims, although we expect the final cost to the council to be lower. The council’s situation is not unique and like many other local authorities we have been planning for this issue for a number of years.”

Asbestos was used for a very long time in the construction industry
Asbestos was used for a very long time in the construction industry


The funds only relate to council employees, with the full extent of compensation in the private sector unknown, but one support group has secured more than £1.5m worth of funding for compensation in the past year alone.

Since September 2012 the Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group has assisted at least 128 people suffering with asbestos-related cancers, providing support to them and their families.

They say 2,500 new cases develop in the UK every year, and this could become nearly 3,000 each year by 2015 – at the moment about 300 people in the North become ill.

Northern TUC regional secretary Beth Farhat said they were working with Macmillan Cancer Support to offer free and impartial advice and support to anybody in the North-east who had been affected by an asbestos-related disease.

She said: “Unfortunately, the need for groups like ours and support for asbestos victims will only continue to grow over the next 10-15 years at least, as the full-scale of asbestos exposure comes to light.

“However, we aim to provide at least a little comfort – and a lot of practical support to those who find themselves affected by such debilitating illnesses.

“While money won’t buy back sufferers’ health, it is only right that they are provided with the means to have some quality of life, without having to worry about who will care for them or if they can afford to pay vital bills.”

To speak to the support group, contact Maggie Bailey on 07983 883274 or email Maggie.Bailey@tadea-uk.com.

It’s workers like Alan who pay the ultimate price

Alan Dean was exposed over years of loading the material on to ships. He died aged 81
Alan Dean was exposed over years of loading the material on to ships. He died aged 81


A devastated widow has paid tribute to her husband who died from asbestos-related cancer while his compensation battle was ongoing.

Sheila Dean’s husband Alan succumbed to mesothelioma in April – 23 years after he retired from a career as a labourer on Middlesbrough’s docks that exposed him to the hazardous material.

At 15 he left school in Whinney Banks, Middlesbrough, to start work that would see him travel across Teesside’s docks as a stevedore responsible for loading and unloading cargo.

His work on Tees Dock saw him carry sacks of asbestos from a Middlesbrough factory on to ships that exported the hazardous material around the world.

And Alan’s death – five days before his 81st birthday – came as legal action against the National Dock Labour Board that was responsible for exposing him to asbestos dust dragged on.

Despite clear health risks linked to asbestos having been discovered as early as 1898, Alan was not given any protective equipment against the plumes of dust that surrounded him while he worked.

And today his family is still fighting for financial security after the huge impact Alan’s disease had upon them.

Sheila, 69, said it had been extremely hard to watch him suffer from the incurable condition. She said: “Mesothelioma is a cruel disease, lying dormant in the body with no telling symptoms, striking as if from nowhere years later.

“Alan’s unexpected death has impacted enormously on us as a family. Alan was a fit and healthy man with no medical conditions and taking no medication.”

And Sheila added that it was years before any sign of the disease became apparent in Alan.

She said: “We are grateful that Alan got to enjoy 23 happy and healthy years of retirement with his family, spending our winters in sunny Spain and our summers enjoying the garden and playing bowls, which he enjoyed so much.”

Ian Toft, an asbestos claim expert at Irwin Mitchell solicitors, said Alan’s condition showed how employers who had negligently exposed workers to asbestos were ruining lives decades later.

He said: “I have been working with victims of asbestos exposure now for over 10 years, yet I am still stunned by the conditions so many of my clients were working in at a time when their employers should have known of the risks presented by asbestos and taken the necessary steps to protect their workers.

“Now we have the tragic scenario of honest working men like Alan suffering the consequences of their employers’ inaction.”

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Teesside asbestos legacy exposed as councils set aside millions to compensate workers

Widow in battle for justice over asbestos-related death of…

The widow of a former Merchant Navy worker who died of an asbestos-related disease is appealing to his former colleagues to get in touch as she launches a battle for justice.

Oslo Schive from Dartford died of mesothelioma, a cancer on the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling deadly asbestos dust, aged 74 in December 2011.

  1. Oslo Schive died from mesothelioma

    Oslo Schive died from mesothelioma

His devastated wife Mary is now working with asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to appeal to his former colleagues to come forward as they may have vital evidence about his exposure to the deadly dust.

Before his death, the father-of-two, who was born in Cape Town South Africa, but lived in Dartford most of his life, remembered being exposed to asbestos when he worked as a kitchen assistant after joining the Merchant Navy in 1960.

He worked onboard the ‘Carnarvon Castle’, a steam ship owned by the Union Castle Line and he could remember there being asbestos in the engine and boiler rooms as well as pipes that were lagged with the material which was used for fireproofing.

Helen Ashton, a partner and industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing Mrs Shive, said: “Oslo’s family have been devastated by their loss and are appealing for anyone who worked on board the Carnarvon Castle, particularly when it sailed from Southampton to Capetown between March 1960 and January 1961, as we believe they may have vital information that could help with Mrs Shive’s legal claim.

“Mesothelioma is an industrial illness for which there is sadly no cure. Employers have been well aware of the dangers of exposing workers to asbestos since the 1950s and 60s so there was no excuse for not protecting them from this deadly dust.”

Mr Schive, who left the navy in 1966, was referred for a chest X-ray at the Medway Maritime Hospital in March 2011 after suffering symptoms of breathlessness. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma shortly after and sadly passed away on December 7 that year.

His wife said: “When we were told Oslo’s diagnosis we were absolutely devastated and struggled to accept that something he had been exposed to so long ago, through no fault of his own, had caused him to be terminally ill.

“He tried to fight the illness but it was too aggressive and there was nothing that could be done for him.

“We just hope that anyone who remembers working with Oslo or worked onboard the Carnarvon Castle in the early 1960s gets in touch as any information, no matter how small, could help us in our battle for justice.”

Anyone who thinks they can help is asked to contact Helen Ashton or Nicole Stringfellow at Irwin Mitchell on 0870 1500 100 or email helen.ashton@irwinmitchell.com or Nicole.stringfellow@irwinmitchell.com


Widow in battle for justice over asbestos-related death of…