Electrician wins legal battle over asbestos that killed his wife

Tristan Kirk

An electrician whose wife was poisoned by asbestos dust she inhaled more than 40 years ago has won the right to up to £1 million in damages.

Lydia Carey died aged 60 in November last year, killed by toxic asbestos fibres secreted on her husband John’s work overalls while he worked for Vauxhall Motors in Luton in the Seventies.

The fibres were transmitted from husband to wife as she washed his dust-soaked clothes and even when the young couple kissed and hugged, the High Court heard.

After being exposed to asbestos between 1976 and 1979, the fibres and dust lay dormant in her body until they triggered the cancer that killed her.

Mr Carey, from Bedfordshire, sued his former employers over his wife’s premature death, arguing that his exposure to asbestos in the Vauxhall plant in Dunstable was to blame.

He said the factory where he worked as a maintenance electrician “crawled” with asbestos, and he “would sometimes have to walk through, kneel or even lie in dust in order to work”.

Vauxhall Motors had contested the claim, but Judge Karen Walden-Smith yesterday ruled in Mr Carey’s favour. Damages are to be decided.

The court will now consider the amount of damages owed to Mr Carey.