Appeal for help as widow takes up husband's mesothelioma claim

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Appeal for help as widow takes up husband's mesothelioma claim

18th September 2009

The widow of a Middlesex man who died from an industrial disease has appealed for help to continue the fight for justice her husband began just a week before he died.

Jenny Bevis's husband David died in April 2007 after developing mesothelioma, a painful cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In the days before his death, Mr Bevis, who was 66, launched a claim for compensation against his former employers, who he believed were responsible for exposing him to the deadly fibres.

Now, more than two years after Mr Bevis succumbed to the disease, his widow is still fighting to win the compensation her husband is entitled to.

Mrs Bevis, 62, who now lives in Wiltshire, met her husband when they both worked at chemical company Soflor Ltd, based in Wadsworth Road, Perivale. Mr Bevis worked in the laboratories of Soflor for almost two decades from 1965 to 1983. The company changed its name several times over the years, to Polak Frutal Works Ltd, PFW, and then later to Tastemaker Ltd and TMKR Ltd.

"I worked in the analytical laboratory and didn't walk through the factory floor like my husband did," said Mrs Bevis. "David would go down on the floor every day to take samples back, or to see what was coming in and going out.

"We worked in an old building - it wasn't a sterile environment and we weren't told of any dangers in materials that were around," she said. "We wore lab coats but no other protective equipment."

Bridget Collier, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, met with Mr Bevis the week before his death.

"As an industrial chemist, David was in charge of the gas chromatography instrumentation and that whole area of the plant," said Miss Collier. "Through testing samples, he would ensure the quality of materials leaving the company.

"The plant contained large chemical stills and boilers lagged with asbestos for insulation, and David recalled these would be stripped down and re-lagged as part of an annual maintenance programme.

"It takes many years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent, which can make finding witnesses and information about the employer very difficult," said Miss Collier. "The problem we now face is tracing the insurers of the company at the time, and colleagues of David who can confirm the boilers and stills were re-lagged."

Miss Collier said the case was further complicated by the complex history of the company. "At some point Soflor Ltd became Polak Frutal Works - or PFW Ltd - which then changed its name to Tastemaker Ltd and later to TMKR," she said. "The company was originally incorporated in November 1928, but the final incarnation of the business dissolved on 19 August, 1997.

"While we know Mr Bevis worked there for a period of more than 18 years until 1983, we are having difficulty finding evidence due to the fact that he left more than 25 years ago," she said. "We are looking for witnesses who can assist with tracing the insurers of the company at the time Mr Bevis worked there, and we are trying to track down people such as Marjorie Thompson and Anna Turner, both of whom worked in positions where they may have known that information.

"Unless we can track down the insurance company and prove that David was exposed to asbestos, Mrs Bevis may go uncompensated for the fact that she has lost her husband to this dreadful illness," said Miss Collier.

If you remember working alongside David Bevis, if you worked for Soflor during the same period, or you think you can help in any way, please call Bridget Collier on 0161 238 6424 or e-mail