A former painter and decorator has received a substantial sum in compensation after developing an asbestos related disease.

Stephen McKeown, 64, from the Wirral was diagnosed with disabling asbestos related condition pleural thickening in 2007.

Pleural thickening can be caused by asbestos, leaving sufferers breathless and unable to carry out everyday tasks.

Stephen, who is married with two sons and three grandchildren, was exposed to asbestos working as a painter and decorator for Lever Brothers, now known as Unilevers, between 1962 and 1966 and again from 1970 to 2002.

He served his apprenticeship at the Port Sunlight plant and worked as a maintenance painter alongside laggers removing asbestos.

He was also exposed to asbestos between 1968 and 1970 working as a shipyard painter for Cammell Laird.

Never given any protection from asbestos

During both jobs he was never warned about the dangers of asbestos and was not given any protection.

Stephen said: “For over 40 years I spent most of my time working in an industrial environment among asbestos but I wasn’t aware of the dangers. In later years health and safety became more of a concern but by then it was too late.

Following his diagnosis he contacted Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group (MAVSG) and approached asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors for legal advice. Thompsons successfully proved legal liability against both employers and settled the claim out of court.

The settlement allows Stephen to claim further compensation should his condition worsen or if he develops other asbestos related diseases such as the fatal cancer mesothelioma.

Pleural thickening can be a severe and debilitating disease

Stephen added: “If I could choose to have my health back rather than receive compensation, I would. However, I got this condition just through going to work and I believe that compensation should be paid to people like me.”

John Flanagan from MAVSG said: “We help many victims of asbestos related disease receive support and advice. Mr McKeown was unwittingly exposed to asbestos while working for two employers and as a result must live with his disability and the risk that one day it may lead to fatal disease. We are only too pleased to have been able to assist him to obtain the benefits he is entitled to.”

Joanne Candlish of Thompsons Solicitors said: “Pleural thickening can be a severe and debilitating disease. We have helped many workers who have been harmed by asbestos to claim compensation.

“This provisional settlement provides Mr McKeown with immediate compensation but also allows him to reopen his case to claim further compensation if he suffers serious deterioration due to asbestos related disease at any time in the future.”