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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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My work clothes may have killed my wife, claims Cumbrian man

A husband says he is devastated at the thought that washing his work clothes could have caused his wife’s death.

Maureen Whittaker photo
Maureen Whittaker

Peter Whittaker is in the midst of a legal campaign to seek what he sees as justice for his late wife Maureen and the illness she died from.

To do that, the plumber is appealing for people he may have worked with to come forward and back his case about the working conditions which could have proved fatal for her.

Mrs Whittaker, a mother-of three and grandmother-of-four from Plumpton, near Penrith, died last November, aged 58.

The cause of her death was mesothelioma, a type of cancer often linked with exposure to asbestos.

It is suspected that her health problems were caused by the contact she had with her husband’s work clothes, often contaminated with deadly asbestos dust.

He believes he came into contact while working on major construction schemes in the early 1970s.

Mr Whittaker, 60, said: “It’s devastating to think she may have contracted this terrible illness after washing the clothes I wore to work.”

His lawyers are now looking for people he may have worked with on building projects in Liverpool – alongside up to 30 other people – between 1971 and 1974.

The widower is working with solicitors with a view to pursuing legal action over the conditions that ultimately led to his wife’s death, saying it is heartbreaking to think she may have been subjected to asbestos via his clothes.

He said: “Maureen was such a lively, fun-loving person and was really healthy until she became ill with mesothelioma. She was a keen swimmer and shortly before her diagnosis we went on holiday to Cornwall and she was swimming confidently off the coast.

“It’s hard to believe that just months after she could hardly walk as she got so breathless and was drained of all her energy. It was heartbreaking to see her robbed of her health, independence and ultimately her life.”

Isobel Lovett, an asbestos law specialist who works at legal firm Irwin Mitchell’s in Newcastle, is representing Mr Whittaker.

She said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which can take 40 years to develop.

“Companies in the 1960s and 1970s knew the dangers of working with or close to asbestos but unfortunately too many did not provide adequate protection for their employees, and in turn their families.”

There have been a number of cases in Cumbria in recent years where legal action has been pursued in connection with deaths related to asbestos exposure.

Anyone who can help with Mr Whittaker’s case should call 0191 2790104 or email isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com

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