Family of Unite member from Plymouth speak of “harrowing” impact of asbestos-related death

The family of a Plymouth man, who died because of asbestos exposure while working at dockyards, has received more than £300,000 compensation.

Just months after being diagnosed with the fatal asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, Michael Turner died.

He had worked at the Devonport naval dockyard from 1963 until 1987, firstly as a messenger, before later taking work as a driver and a lagger. He was routinely exposed to asbestos both directly through his work, and through contact with his colleagues. He was never provided with face masks or overalls.

Mr Turner’s widow, Pamela, and his son-in-law, Paul Blake, turned to Unite Legal Services for legal support.

Mrs Turner said: “Seeing Mike’s health deteriorate so quickly was absolutely harrowing. This horrible disease has taken from us a wonderful, caring, hard-working man who always had a smile on his face.

“Paul is a Unite official and recommended I contact Unite Legal Services, so our family could get our questions answered.

“I can’t thank my union enough – the personal touch made me feel that there were others who genuinely cared for Mike’s life and the impact this illness had on our family.”

Stuart Davies, legal officer for Unite in the south west region, said: “I cannot begin to imagine the trauma that Mike’s death has had on his family. What is more tragic is that this is far from an isolated case, with thousands across the country dying from mesothelioma on a yearly basis.

“I hope that this successful legal resolution and the support of Unite Legal Services has helped the family in the wake of such a tragic death. Michael’s case acts as a reminder that just because asbestos use was banned in 1999, the impacts of the substance is far from a thing of the past.”

Find out more on making an asbestos claim.