Cape Asbestos ordered to reveal past Barking case details

PUBLISHED: 10:40 17 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:05 17 July 2013

Cape Asbestos factory in Barking

Cape Asbestos factory in Barking


An asbestos insulation company has been ordered to reveal the details of around 550 legal claims made against it by cancer victims alleging the firm is responsible for causing their illness.

Family of cancer victim suing Cape Asbestos

The son of a cancer victim has spoken of his sense of duty in taking an asbestos company to court over its alleged role in his father’s death.

Denis Aherne died aged 67 of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused in most cases by sustained contact with asbestos, in January last year.

His family, including son Robert, is suing insulation company Cape Asbestos, based in Barking from 1913 to 1968, alleging that significant levels of the toxic dust were allowed to escape from the company’s factory while it was operational.

Denis lived less than half a mile from the factory over 14 years from 1947 and attended both Joseph’s Primary School and St Ethelburgas Secondary School, some 250 yards from the factory, which stood in Harts Lane.

Father-of-one Robert, who named his eight-month-old son after his late father, said pursuing the legal claim was a chance at closure, adding: “If people were to blame for our circumstances and for the circumstances of others, we are contributing towards bringing that to light and helping others.

“It feels like almost a duty to everyone else who has been through a similar situation.”

Cape Asbestos, which was based in Harts Lane, Barking, from 1913 to 1968, has been the target of claims from victims of “environmental” asbestos poisoning – those not working within its factory but who lived or worked nearby.

A High Court ruling last month ordered the company to disclose all previous claims of this type.

The decision will be a boon to families still considering legal action, who hope evidence and information from previous cases may be able to be used in court to support future claims.

Solicitor Gillian Jones, of Boyes Turner, said: “If this information comes out it would be very useful.

“It would mean people fighting their case against Cape Asbestos would benefit from information that came out in previous cases.”

In many of the claims, including that of Denis Aherne which inspired the landmark ruling, victims died from mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by regular contact with asbestos dust.

Barking and Dagenham remains one of the top 10 asbestos death blackspots in the country, with 265 fatalities per 100,000 people recorded between 1981 to 2005.

Solicitors Boyes Turner are also acting on behalf of the family of William Charles Ruston, who died from lung cancer.

His relatives believe he lived in Hurstbourne Gardens, Barking, during his childhood and later went to Barking Abbey School.

n Lawyers are looking to get in touch with anybody who knew Mr Ruston in Barking or went to school with him. Contact 0118 952 7156 to speak with a solicitor working on the case.

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