Senior Laboratory Technician in the Biology Department in a Worcestershire school prepared Asbestolux

Dear Mr. Oren,

Re: Disclosure of Cape documents and £10m mesothelioma research donation

My wife Lyn, worked in a Worcestershire school as a Senior Laboratory Technician in the Biology Department. During the 1980’s, county inspectors visited the school to identify the presence of asbestos in the structure, services and other classroom items. Subsequently her head of department received a report stating that two fume cupboards were backed with Asbestolux and that they needed to be sealed with paint. Lyn was someone who liked to go the extra mile in everything she did, so she climbed into the fume cupboards and prepared the Asbestolux by brushing it down, before giving it a coat of paint. A lab coat and mask was all the protection she had, as there was no training and little awareness at that time. The consequence of all this was a diagnosis of Mesothelioma in December 2020.

She died 13 months later.

Neither myself, my Son, my daughter-in-law, nor my two grandchildren and her many friends will ever come to terms with the loss. We are only a few of the many who have suffered similarly. Please give serious thought to the spirit of this letter.

This diagnosis of an asbestos related disease was a terrible shock to our family. There is no cure for these cruel diseases and we are all still trying to come to terms with the life-changing impact. Some of us have already lost the loved one who was affected by the disease.

What we will never come to terms with is the knowledge that these diseases were entirely preventable. If the warnings on the dangers of asbestos had been acted upon, thousands of families would not have had to experience the dramatic impact that these diseases have or mourn the loss of their loved ones.

To find out that Cape, one of the largest asbestos companies in the world, knowingly and deliberately withheld from the authorities the real danger of their asbestos products, for profit, has added to our trauma. This would never have come to light, but for the legal case taken by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (AVSGF) to force disclosure of Cape’s documents.

I am shocked and angry that Cape put so many lives at risk. Your company, Altrad, bought Cape in 2017 and has benefitted financially from the purchase of a very profitable company. From 2017 to 2020 Cape, at enormous cost, fought AVSGF in court to prevent disclosure of its historical documents, when you should have simply handed over the documents for public health reasons. Instead, you were prepared to pay excessive amounts in legal fees to defend the indefensible. The documents are significant for public health reasons because Cape Asbestolux was used in the construction of schools, hospitals and many other public buildings. These buildings are now deteriorating and schoolteachers, pupils, doctors, nurses and many others are being exposed to asbestos by simply being in those buildings. It is significant that the younger the age a person has been exposed to asbestos, the higher the risk, that person is likely to develop mesothelioma.

The government estimates that there are about 7,500 deaths from asbestos diseases per year. This figure includes 2,500 deaths from mesothelioma. That is why AVSGF has campaigned for Altrad/Cape to honour its moral obligation to atone for the destruction of so many lives by donating £10 million towards mesothelioma research.

Yours is a multinational company with huge resources, still trading profitably. A significant donation for mesothelioma research would help restore your company’s reputation.

My hope is that you will now agree to such a donation. We will never give up on this vital campaign in honour of all those who have needlessly died and to give those who are suffering, some hope for the future.

We will remember the dead and continue to fight for the living!

Yours sincerely,
Roy Snook