A former publications officer at Cadbury’s Bournville factory has received £100,000 compensation after developing the fatal asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

Brian Harrison, 76, from Manchester, worked for Cadbury between 1954 to 1962. He spent much of his time interviewing colleagues who had interesting stories to tell or were retiring, for publication in the monthly works magazine.

Mr Harrison recalls, from time to time, interviewing workers who would be stripping and repairing asbestos insulated pipe work.

Mr Harrison was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2009. He said “There were a large number of pipes at Cadbury’s Bourneville premises that were insulated with asbestos. Whilst the food areas were maintained to the highest standards during the production, this wasn’t necessarily the case during shutdown periods or when areas were closed for repair. When I was interviewing someone I would do so on the shop floor, perhaps a few feet from where they were working. I found people were more comfortable speaking to me there.

“I enjoyed good health until I noticed during my weekly swim that I seemed to be struggling for breath. I was diagnosed with mesothelioma after a lot of tests and I was so shocked that I initially told the doctors that I couldn’t recall having been exposed to asbestos. But when I had time to reflect on the working conditions at the factory it became obvious that I was. There were no warnings given by my employer about the dangers of asbestos.”

Access to expert specialist legal advice

Gill Owen from Thompsons said:

“Mr Harrison’s claim for compensation was far from straightforward. The legal argument in defence of the claim was that Cadbury could not have foreseen that the level of Mr Harrison’s asbestos exposure posed a risk of him developing mesothelioma. This is a defence often raised in cases where people who did not do manual jobs were exposed to asbestos before it became known in 1965 that even low level and infrequent exposure to asbestos could cause mesothelioma. ”

“It is an illustration of the type of legal challenge which employers and insurers increasingly resort to and why it is essential that mesothelioma sufferers like Mr Harrison have access to expert specialist legal advice”.