Former colleagues sought after asbestos death

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Former colleagues sought after asbestos death

6th September 2011

Former colleagues of a Teignmouth man are being urged to come forward and help win the fight for justice he began before he died from asbestos-related cancer.

Richard Hooper was just 63 when he succumbed to mesothelioma, a painful cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. He had only been diagnosed with the disease two months earlier. Now, a lawyer acting on behalf of his estate is hoping anyone who worked alongside Mr Hooper in the 1960s and early 70s will be able to provide information as she continues his battle for compensation.

“Richard worked throughout Devon and Cornwall as a carpenter, a vocation he trained in as an apprentice from leaving school,” said Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP. “In 1963, aged 17, Richard began working for J H Hooper & Sons (no relation), a job he held until 1971.”

Miss Mynett said the firm – which was based in Northumberland Place, Teignmouth - employed a number of apprentices, carpenters, plumbers, painters and bricklayers.

“Before his death in October 2009, Richard began a legal fight for compensation against the now defunct J H Hooper & Sons,” she said. “He told me stories of how he had been exposed to asbestos on a number of occasions on house-building jobs throughout the south west, including specific developments in Teignmouth and Shaldon.”

Miss Mynett said Mr Hooper told her how he and his colleagues used asbestos on a regular basis during their employment. “Richard said sometimes they would be cutting asbestos for a few days at a time,” she said. “Initially and for a number of years they used asbestos sheeting made from blue asbestos. At some point, and Richard could not be sure of exactly when, the company switched to using an asbestos replacement product, which shockingly also contained asbestos.”

“Richard and his colleagues would cut asbestos sheeting to size for each job they were doing, be it lining walls, pipe boxing or roofing,” said Miss Mynett. “He described how the air would be thick with dust and fibres from the sawing and drilling that they would do in the fitting process.

“This was common throughout his years working on buildings for J H Hooper & Sons,” said Miss Mynett. “He described how after a day’s work his hair and clothes would be thick with dust – dust which he realised much later was likely to contain deadly asbestos fibres.”

Miss Mynett explained that it can take many years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent. “Unfortunately the building firm is long since out of business, but if we can identify the insurer during the time Richard was there, we can still hold them to account for his illness,” she said. “We desperately need to hear from any colleagues who worked alongside Richard during his time working across Devon in the sixties and seventies, or any of the office administration staff who may be able to shed light on the insurance company.

“Richard has paid an enormous price for working dutifully. Hopefully with the help of his former colleagues, we can win the fight for justice he started before his life ended so prematurely, securing compensation for the family he has left behind."

Can you help? If you remember working for J H Hooper & Sons or alongside Richard Hooper, on property construction throughout Devon and Cornwall between 1963 and 1971, or if you worked at the firm and have information about the insurance company it might have used, please contact Lesley Mynett on 0161 238 6417 or e-mail  All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to this case.

See also Teignmouth Post coverage