A former benefits officer has received almost £170,000 in damages after being exposed to asbestos in his office.

The granddad of two, who does not wish to be named, has been diagnosed with fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and is often diagnosed in those who have worked in heavy industries.

The man, from Bury, was exposed while working at Prestwich Unemployment Benefit Office during the late 70s and early 80s.

He worked for the Department for Work and Pensions for 30 years before retiring in 2000.

Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

He said when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma he had no idea what it was. It was only when his consultant explained its causes that he knew he was exposed to dangerous asbestos dust while working at the benefits centre.

The claimant was given a letter from his department in 1984 saying asbestos had been found throughout his office. He had kept the letter all these years and it became integral in claiming compensation.

He said: “It was a massive shock to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. I had no idea what it was but when it was explained to me I immediately thought of this letter which was given to all members of staff.

“I feel quite angry now that they did not follow the letter up with a screening programme. They should have explained the consequences of what it meant to have asbestos in the building.

“I had no idea that this letter was really warning me that I could develop an asbestos related disease in the future. I never really understood its meaning.”