Opinion Former Article

NUT: Asbestos in Schools - major court victory

Today the Supreme Court upheld an earlier Appeal Court judgment that Dianne Willmore, who died of mesothelioma in October 2010, had been negligently exposed to asbestos while a pupil at a school run by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council in the 1970s.

Commenting on the decision, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said;

"This case is of great significance since it is the first time that a former pupil has been awarded compensation for asbestos exposure which took place whilst at school. We hope it will act as a wake up call for local authorities and other employers to improve asbestos management in schools.

"It has been known for many years that children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of asbestos exposure, even at low levels. In the last 10 years 140 teachers have died of mesothelioma. If teachers are dying from their exposure, inevitably pupils will die too in later life. Because of the long latency period, however, there are no records of adults who have died because of childhood exposure.

"The NUT has for many years been calling for an assessment of the asbestos risks to children at school. We hope that this case will lead the Government to commission such an assessment. For the sake of the children in our schools we hope that the assessment is carried out without further delay."

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For further details contact Caroline Cowie on 0207 80 4706/ 07879480061

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