Ex-Sunderland shipyard worker wins asbestos pay out

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A FORMER shipyard worker living in the shadow of lung cancer after exposure to asbestos has won compensation.

Robert Kemp, 75, from Sunderland was exposed to the deadly chemical while working as an apprentice and then shipwright for two Wear yards from the 1950s to 1980s.

When he began to suffer from a cough and chest pain in August 2010 he was told by doctors there was a 90 per cent chance he had lung cancer. A biopsy ruled out cancer but Mr Kemp was diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening, which leaves the former GMB union branch secretary breathless and unable to walk long distances or carry out work at home.

“This has had a huge impact on my life,” he said.

“It is very frustrating that I cannot do the things I used to be able to do. I am terrified that I will get asbestos cancer in the future and this fear lives with me all the time.”

Mr Kemp had previously been diagnosed with pleural plaques and through the GMB, he approached Thompsons Solicitors for advice, only to find the law had changed to end compensation for the condition.

He approached the firm again after being told he probably had cancer, and Thompsons was successful in securing compensation from two of his former employers’ insurers.

The provisional settlement allows him to make a further claim for compensation if his condition worsens in the future due to asbestos-related disease.