|EDMUND BRACEWELL | battles on for life and compensation|
Asbestos is Britain’s biggest industrial killer.
Hundreds of people in the North West alone
are dying from asbestos-related cancer.
Yet the hazards of the material have been known about for over 100 years,
according to Geoff Tweedale from the Manchester Business School.
Geoff says, "The Government knew as early as 1900. The
factory inspectors - the employers - must have known at roughly the same
time but certainly by 1930."
|Case study: Nellie Kershaw|
Nellie Kershaw worked for
Turner and Newall in their Rochdale factory from 1917.
She worked in the spinning room. This took raw
asbestos rock and converted it into a host of products.
In 1922, five years after starting work, Nellie
By 1924 she was dead.
The inquest which followed Nellie's death was the
first on an asbestos worker.
She was the first recorded case of asbestosis.
Turner and Newall was the world’s biggest asbestos producer
and had factories in the North West.
Edmund Bracewell (pictured above) from New Moston worked
as an asbestos pipe lagger at Newall’s Insulation in Ancoats for just
Edmund is dying from mesothelioma. This
is a rare form of cancer almost always associated with asbestos.
Edmund describes the extraordinary amount of dust generated
when working with asbestos, "I was covered in dust."
"We had a wash but its still on your clothing and hands."
In such conditions, asbestos fibres can float invisibly
in the air.
These are so small that two million would fit on a pin
head. Each fibre could induce cancer.
Edmund feels angry that such information was not given
Leeming sees many asbestos related deaths|
He says, "I would not have accepted the job knowing it
would have damaged my health later in life."
Edmund clearly is not alone. Jennifer Leeming is a North
She says, "It wouldn’t be unusual for me to go and sit
in Wigan, for example, and do, say, six inquests and all of these in one
particular day will be related to asbestos related diseases."
Getting compensation for Edmund and other victims should
be straight forward. But it isn’t.
Five years ago, Turner and Newall was taken over by an
American company called Federal Mogul, which also became responsible for
But in that time, asbestos claims in the States have
gone from a handful to a quarter of a million.
Federal Mogul couldn’t survive financially if all the
claims had to be paid at once.
They voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. This
action puts all the claims on hold, while still allowing the company to
trade and make profits.
In Britain, the company went into Administration.
Administrators and solicitors representing some British
victims believe that the seriously ill British people should be dealt
with as a special case.
|Tony Morris talks
to Jim Zamoyski, pictured on the screen|
They think British victims should be pulled out of the
legal maze so that compensation payments can restart.
Presenter Tony Morris put this question to Federal Mogul’s
chief lawyer, Jim Zamoyski.
He declined to give an interview but says, "There’s a
lot of US victims as well, so I think they’re all going to be handled
at the same time."
One way that the seriously ill British victims may receive
compensation more quickly is if the Government step in and make payments
When Federal Mogul resolves the case, the Government
would get its money back.
Tony Lloyd is a North West Labour MP and former Turner
and Newall employee.
He says, "It is not Government who created the problems
or who has all the answers."
"What we do want though is Government galvanised across
its different departments and to say that Government can bring pressure
to bear on those who can unlock this situation."
"But what I can’t promise is that the answer will come
tomorrow. It will take time."
Time is something Edmund doesn’t have.
He says, "I think I’ll be dead before the compensation
goes through the courts."
Simon Freakley is in charge of the Administration of
Turner and Newall in the UK.
He appreciates the essence of time, saying, "In my experience
this case is moving as quickly as any that I’ve seen."
"We’re hopeful that money will start to get into the
hands of claimants at some stage during next year."
This is the most encouraging news asbestos claimants
have had in a long time.
Anyone wanting help or advice on asbestos related diseases
can contact the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group on
0161 953 4037.