Appeal after Sunderland man dies of asbestos-related cancer

The family of a Sunderland man who died of asbestos-related cancer a month after being diagnosed are continuing his fight for justice.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 1:19 pm
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 1:22 pm
William Hutton died in April after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer

William Hutton developed symptoms including shortness of breath and back pain towards the end of last year and was diagnosed in March with mesothelioma - a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure.

A month later, he passed away aged 76 on April 28 earlier this year.

William Hutton died in April after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer

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Before he died, the retired civil servant contacted specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he came to develop the illness.

Now his loved ones are carrying on with the case in his memory and are appealing for William's former workmates to come forward and help them gain justice regarding the illness.

Lawyers want anyone who worked with William at the Department of Work and Pensions’ Plawsworth Resettlement and Reestablishment Unit near Chester-le-Street between 1984 and 1991 to come forward and help them gather information regarding the presence of asbestos at the site.

His widow Janet, 72, said: “William recalled how the site was short-term accommodation for a range of people and remembered that he regularly needed to visit the boiler room, where it is likely asbestos was present.

“However, he also talked about regularly visiting the nissen huts which were on-site. They were around 40 years old and he recalled they were built from a corrugated whitish-grey material which he didn’t believe was metal. Later on in his time there it was decided the buildings should no longer be used, with one reason being the apparent presence of asbestos in them.

“It has been very difficult losing William, particularly as he passed away so quickly after the illness took hold. The entire family misses him so much and we are all just desperate for answers as to how this happened. We would be grateful to anyone who may be able to come forward with information to help our case.”

Kirstie Devine, the specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing William’s family, said: “While it is very common for asbestos exposure to be linked to industrial environments, this is one of a growing number of cases we have seen related to public buildings like government sites and hospitals.

“William’s family remain devastated at losing him and are desperate for answers as to how his contact with asbestos occurred.

"We would be grateful to anyone who is able to shed light on this issue and assist the case.”

William worked for the DWP – then known as the Department of Social Security – from 1968 but said before his death that he believed his asbestos exposure happened during his time as head manager at the Plawsworth Resettlement and Reestablishment Unit.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sonia Akram at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 434 0719 or email [email protected]