News

Final act in the landmark Cape case? (13th February 2019)

Asbestos campaigners will be rallying on the steps of the Supreme Court at 10.00 a.m. on Monday 18th February in support of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (the Forum) case against former asbestos giant Cape Intermediate Holdings.

The Supreme Court will be hearing Cape’s appeal against earlier court decisions that the Forum should be given important documents disclosed in an earlier case between Cape and insurance companies, documents the Forum believe will shed a light on how much Cape really knew about the dangers of working with their asbestos products.

Although the Forum was not a party to the original court case in which the documents were disclosed, both the Court of Appeal and Master Victoria McCloud agreed that the Forum had a legitimate interest in seeking to obtain the documents. The Forum argued that the release of the documents was in the public interest as it would assist dying mesothelioma victims pursuing compensation claims.

These records would also be significant as they will help explain how the asbestos epidemic in the UK, an avoidable man-made disaster, was allowed to occur. The Forum has agreed to make the documents publicly available if they obtain them.

Lauren Ross from Manchester lost her husband Frank to mesothelioma in 2007 at the age of 60. “Frank was a joiner all his working life and worked hard to provide for his family. Unfortunately he often worked with Asbestolux, asbestos fibre board produced by Cape, which he had to cut to size and fix. When he did this he released asbestos fibres which he inhaled and which eventually caused his death. He was never warned of the dangers. He didn’t live long enough for us to enjoy retirement together, to see his grandchildren or to walk his daughter down the aisle. We deserve to know the truth about what Cape knew and why Frank and others like him were never warned about the dangers”.

Chair of the Forum Graham Dring said “Cape has fought for 2 years to prevent these documents being disclosed to us. In that time, more than 5,000 men and women have died from mesothelioma in the UK. This is not just a matter of historical interest. People are dying today because they worked with Cape products and many more will die in the future. They deserve to know why”.

The Forum is represented by Harminder Bains of Leigh Day. Counsel representing the Forum are Robert Weir QC, Jonathan Butters and Harry Sheehan of Devereux Chambers. Leigh Day and Counsel are acting pro bono for the Forum.