Appeal for help in Essex woman's fight for justice

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Appeal for help in Essex woman's fight for justice

6th August 2012

Former colleagues of a Loughton man are being urged to come forward, as the widow of Alan Wiggins - who died from cancer after being exposed to asbestos decades ago - continues her husband's fight for justice.

Mr Wiggins was only 64 when he died in February this year, just a day after doctors confirmed that he had developed the industrial disease, mesothelioma. Now his wife Cynthia is hoping that witnesses will help in her battle to hold to account those she holds responsible.

“Alan only started to become ill at the end of November last year,” said Mrs Wiggins, who used to live in Cherston Road in Loughton, but now lives in Dorset. “After seeing the doctor we went to the hospital for some tests. It was just after he’d had a lung biopsy that the consultant said there was a strong possibility it was mesothelioma and asked if he’d ever worked with asbestos.”

Mr Wiggins had been a successful Independent Financial Adviser since the early 1970s, but from leaving school he had trained and worked as an electrician for the Matthew Hall Group, a refurbishing firm based in London which was later acquired by the engineering giants, AMEC.

“It was whilst working for Matthew Hall that he was exposed to asbestos,” said Mrs Wiggins. “He joined as an apprentice electrician in 1961, qualified in 1966 and stayed there until 1972 before he became a financial advisor - so obviously that was the only time he was ever anywhere near asbestos.”

Mrs Wiggins said her husband worked on countless refurbishments and building projects across the area, including working on the London Barbican redevelopment in the late 1960s.

“Alan said there was always asbestos around them while they worked,” she said. “Ceilings were being pulled down, pipe work was being covered in asbestos or broken up, and he said there was always asbestos dust in the air. They didn’t realise at the time just how dangerous asbestos was.”

Following her husband’s death, Mrs Wiggins contacted Lesley Mynett, a specialist industrial disease lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP. “Mesothelioma is a particularly cruel disease,” said Miss Mynett, a partner with the firm. “It can take many years to develop after being exposed to asbestos, and in most cases victims then rapidly succumb. Mr Wiggins died just a day after his diagnosis, giving no time at all for himself, his wife or his family to prepare for what lay ahead.”

Miss Mynett said that a verdict of death as a result of industrial disease was recorded at an inquest at Bournemouth Coroners Court on 15 March.

“Unfortunately, because Mr Wiggins died before he was able to give a full account of the work he did with Matthew Hall during the 1960s, we are unable to prove that he was exposed to asbestos at that time,” said Miss Mynett. “We know that one of his former colleagues – another electrician in fact – recently died from mesothelioma, and we also believe that the Loughton area was a commuter belt for Matthew Hall employees. With that in mind, we are urgently trying to find anyone who worked alongside Mr Wiggins, or worked on the same projects as him, during the 1960s.

“He worked diligently throughout his life, and he developed this illness through no fault of his own,” she said. “If we are to secure his family the justice to which they are entitled, we urgently need his former colleagues – or anyone who worked at Matthew Hall during the 1960s – to come forward and confirm the fact that he was exposed to asbestos whilst working there.”

Can you help?
If you remember working alongside Alan Wiggins at Matthew Hall, or if you worked there between 1961 and 1972, please contact Lesley Mynett on 0844 854 3095 or e-mail lesley.mynett@fentons.co.uk. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to this case.