20 August 2014

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Former deputy editor died from asbestos exposure

A former deputy editor on a Midlands daily newspaper died as a result of being exposed to asbestos, an inquest has heard.

Andy Parker, a journalist at the Burton Mail for almost 30 years, died on News Year’s Eve at the age of 58 after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a cancerous tumour of the lining of the lung and chest cavity.

The Burton Mail reports that an inquest into his death heard the illness was a direct result of breathing in asbestos while working as a labourer for Burton building firm Thomas Lowe and Sons in 1973 and 1974.

He worked on sites where asbestos was present, including a hospital and a high school, with duties including sweeping up debris likely to have contained asbestos dust.

His widow Sally told the newspaper that he had not been aware of any risk to his health from his past work until his diagnosis in April.

She told the Mail: “When I met Andy his days were numbered but none of us knew. People who get this illness were usually exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 70s, when people weren’t aware of the risk. It makes me angry, but there’s nothing I can do about it, and Andy was never angry and never moaned. He was very accepting that it was his time.”

The inquest heard he had undergone an operation in July to remove cancerous tissue and the membrane of his lungs, pleural cavity and heart but the tumour had returned rapidly and spread.

Dr Deidre McKenna, the consultant pathologist who carried out the post-mortem said malignant mesothelioma was ‘a very aggressive, highly malignant tumour which spreads in a relentless fashion and when stripped away grows back’.

Louise Pinder, deputy coroner, recorded a verdict of death caused by industrial disease.

Andy started with the Mail in the 1970s, returning in 1982 for almost three decades which saw him take on the role of deputy editor, before he left at the start of 2010 following a company restructure.

He was described as a ‘newsroom legend’ and ‘a newspaper man through and through’ by former colleagues following his death.

 

4 Comments

  1. Neil Hodge

    I’m very sorry for the family’s loss. I’ve been photographing and documenting people dying from mesothelioma for the past 4 years – it’s an awful disease that has no cure and most people die from it within a year of diagnosis. One point to take issue with in this story is the remark from his wife that no one knew about the risks from asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s – I’m afraid this is untrue. Asbestos manufacturers, the UK government and large manufacturers were aware – they just chose to ignore it and to not notify anyone. As asbestos-related diseases tend to have a latency period of 20 years or more following exposure, employers took a gamble that it would be highly unlikely that they would be held criminally or financial liable for employee well-being in a few decades time and so did not invest in any safety measures. The strategy has largely worked – it is still immensely difficult to prove culpability, even for those sufferers that that worked at the same employer all their lives.

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  2. GladImOutOfIt

    At least he got the verdict of industrial disease. That produces some compensation, I believe.

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  3. Katie

    R.I.P Mr P. I miss you x

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  4. JD, Wirral

    My father died from the same thing two years ago. There is compensation out there (especially for the family of this gentlemen, who died at only 58) and I urge his family on to claim it.

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