Family's damages award over mother's 'second-hand asbestos' death

Media caption,
Kay Gibson said the compensation gave her late mother "the justice she wanted in life".

A family have been awarded almost £250,000 in a groundbreaking legal case after their mother died from second-hand exposure to asbestos.

Adrienne Sweeney contracted mesothelioma after coming into contact with dust from her husband's overalls.

William Sweeney, from Paisley, worked at the Babcock & Wilcox boiler-making factory in Renfrew in the 1960s.

It is believed to be the first time in Scotland that a legal case of this kind has been successfully pursued.

Mrs Sweeney died in 2015, seven years after her husband passed away.

Working conditions

Lawyers for the family said they were left in the difficult position of proving their case with their father not there to provide evidence of the working conditions at Babcock's.

However, a former colleague came forward on Mr Sweeney's behalf and now the family have been awarded damages of £247,000.

The Sweeneys' daughter Kay Gibson said the compensation gave her late mother "the justice she wanted in life and that we sought on her behalf after her painful and unnecessary premature death".

Image source, Sweeney family
Image caption,
Adrienne Sweeney contracted the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma

She added: "Our loving mother, like so many other women in Scotland in the late 1960s and early 1970s, supported her family by caring for her children and washing her husband's overalls when he returned from a hard day's work for employers who used deadly asbestos.

"These women were unaware how unsafe it was to be handling the asbestos dust that came from these work clothes or of the contamination risk to their own and their families' lungs.

"We, her children, await to see if we will suffer the same fate.

"Babcock International have not won their case but it is wrong that ordinary bereaved families still have to individually battle the might of global corporations for justice for their late relatives in such situations."

'Positive outcome'

The family's lawyer Nicola Macara, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: "It is very regrettable that Babcock International Limited made the family go through the full court process hoping that, with all those central to the case being dead, they would successfully defend the action.

"Fortunately we were able to lead credible and reliable evidence as a result of having taken both Mrs Sweeney's and the late witness's statements.

"This landmark case is a very positive outcome not only for the Sweeney family but for all Scots fighting to ensure that justice is done for sufferers of asbestos-related disease."