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THE multi-national company that ran Barking s Cape asbestos plant – branded an industrial killing machine – could be forced to sell assets if compensation claims spiral out of control, experts warned. Legal advisers Asbestosis Compensation said Cape Plc

THE multi-national company that ran Barking's Cape asbestos plant - branded an "industrial killing machine" - could be forced to sell assets if compensation claims spiral out of control, experts warned.

Legal advisers Asbestosis Compensation said Cape Plc, which owned the notorious Harts Lane asbestos plant before it shut in 1968, would be most at risk if the company's performance plunged.

The industry giant's half-year profits jumped by a fifth from �29.9million in 2008 to �36.2million this June, despite the recession.

But their �40million compensation pot, agreed in the High Court three years ago, will come under review this autumn.


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Cape Plc could be forced to top up the pot, covering eight years of claims equivalent to �100,000 a week, should claims and payouts grow unabated.

Fenton Solicitors revealed last week that they had become the latest firm to secure compensation for a Barking victim.

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The 69-year-old, who contracted a form of lung cancer linked to asbestos after working at Cape, was awarded �140,000.

Barking and Dagenham Asbestos Victims' Support Group described the factory as an "industrial killing machine".

Claims look set to continue pouring in as figures reveal Barking and Dagenham is the capital's top asbestos death hotspot with 265 fatalities per 100,000 between 1981-2005.

Asbestosis Compensation, writing on its advice website, said: "If there was a material deterioration in the group's trading performance or a significant increase in either the number of asbestos-related claims or the quantum of damages the group had to settle, it is unlikely that, in the absence of further external funding, the group would be able to continue to meet claims.

"In those circumstances it is possible that the Cape Asbestos directors would be faced with no alternative other than to realise the group's principal assets."

Cape Plc declined to comment directly on the potential sale of assets but a spokesman said the company's financial situation was "evident" given its latest interim results.

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