The BBC has paid out £1.64million in damages following the deaths of 11 former staff who have died as a result of mesothelioma, having been exposed to asbestos across 18 different studios containing asbestos. Those diagnosed thus far include nine men and two women employed by the BBC in various roles between 1959 and 1998.
Two musicians from the BBC Symphony Orchestra are among those who have passed away, including Christopher Larkin, who played French horn for almost 40 years at the Maida Vale Studios in West London. Larkin died in 2021, aged 73, following a mesothelioma diagnosis. His position in the orchestra sat him next to ducts and vents riddled with deadly asbestos dust, which he unknowingly inhaled on a daily basis. Larkin and his former colleague Edwin Dodd, a violinist, were diagnosed with incurable mesothelioma within months of each other. Dodd died aged 89 in January 2021, three months before Larkin.
Producers, set builders, make-up artists and engineers are among the victims. It is expected that an increasing number of ex-employees will continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, with a 77-year-old cellist, who played alongside Dodd and Larkin, having been diagnosed recently, too.
Despite not commenting on each case individually, a BBC spokesperson has said, ‘We would like to extend our continued sympathies to the families of all those affected. The health and safety of BBC staff and all that use BBC buildings is a primary concern. The BBC manages asbestos in accordance with applicable regulations and statutory requirements.’
Dame Esther Rantzen, journalist and television presenter, who filmed That’s Life! at the BBC Lime Grove Studios for 21 years, has voiced her concerns, questioning whether her stage four lung cancer may also have been caused by asbestos exposure.
Adrian Mills, presenter and former colleague of Rantzen, told the Daily Mail that the route to the canteen in the Lime Grove studios was known as ‘Asbestos Alley’. He said, ‘On a regular basis you would come across guys in hazmat suits removing sections of wall.’ Mills continued, ‘We would walk past while they were working, separated by just a flimsy piece of tape. We were literally taking our lives in our hands just to get a chocolate bar or a cup of tea.’
The BBC’s Maida Vale Studios closed in 2018 after being found ‘unfit for the 21st Century’ due to the asbestos in the building. The Lime Grove Studios’ building was demolished in 1993. Other studios reported as containing asbestos included Broadcasting House in Central London, Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham and Alexandra Palace.
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Asbestos Related Disease Solicitors
It is expected that, due to the latency period associated with asbestos exposure, an increasing number of ex-BBC employees will be found to have diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases in the coming months and years.
Since the first cases of these deaths were announced, there have been calls for a funded health check to be implemented, ensuring all those who may have been exposed to asbestos by the BBC can get the appropriate diagnosis early.
Liz Darlison, NHS nurse and Chief Executive of Mesothelioma UK said, ‘From a legal perspective, pinpointing exposure to asbestos remains a real issue for any patients or families making a claim against their employer.
‘Securing a claim, particularly during life, can make a huge difference, especially in today’s economic climate.’
At Bridge McFarland LLP, we have a team of experienced, highly knowledgeable and reliable solicitors, specialising in supporting clients in achieving compensation following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease.
If you require advice and support today, either for yourself or on behalf of a family member, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0800 987 8800 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, fill in this contact form.
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