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£140k payout for asbestos death

PUBLISHED: 11:53 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 September 2010

THE FAMILY of a man who died from asbestos poisoning after working for Haringey Council during the 1970s and 80s has received £140,000 compensation. Jim Crowe was employed as a senior clerk of works for Haringey Council between 1972 and 1988 where he was

THE FAMILY of a man who died from asbestos poisoning after working for Haringey Council during the 1970s and 80s has received £140,000 compensation.

Jim Crowe was employed as a senior clerk of works for Haringey Council between 1972 and 1988 where he was responsible for supervising employees stripping out boilers lagged with asbestos.

He died in June last year, aged 79, after developing the deadly disease mesothelioma - a lung condition caused by exposure to asbestos and for which there is no cure.

He was never given any protection from asbestos by his employers despite regularly questioning them about health and safety at work.

His daughter Anita Crowe, 42, said: "My dad was a really fit and healthy man and he was passionate about DIY and gardening. He was really talented at all sorts of odd jobs and would help out the entire family with his skills.

"But during the last seven or eight years he started to lose all his energy and ability to do any physical work.

"He didn't know what was wrong with him. It was sad to see the way he suffered and the psychological effect his illness had on him."

Mr Crowe, who moved to London from County Clare in Ireland in the 1950s, was formally a shop steward for UNISON.

Throughout his career Mr Crowe, who lived in Wood Green, fought for better working conditions for his colleagues and frequently questioned the council over why it allowed workers to strip out asbestos from schools without any protection from the dust.

"He felt it was only right his former employers should be made to accept responsibility for his illness," added Ms Crowe. "He also wanted to ensure my mum was provided for financially following his death."

Mr Crowe is survived by his wife Tess, four children and four grandchildren. The family decided to pursue compensation after one of his former colleagues got help from UNISON to make personal injury claims.

Linda Perks, a spokeswoman for the union, said: "Mr Crowe was exposed to asbestos when doing a hard day's work. The employers put his health and safety in jeopardy by exposing him to asbestos at a time when they knew or ought to have known about the dangers.

"We are pleased we have been able to secure compensation for Mr Crowe's family but this will never make up for the loss of a husband, father and grandfather."

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: "This was a very sad case and we express our deepest sympathies to Mr Crowe's family.

"Unfortunately, safety standards across the building services industry in the 1960's and 70's were not what they are today, as was demonstrated by the fact Mr Crowe alleged he was exposed by four former employers from 1964 onwards.

"The claim was settled in March this year by mutual consent by Haringey and one of the other employers when it emerged that no insurance policy could be traced for the other two employers which had long ceased to exist. We join the union's solicitors in expressing the hope that the agreed award will at least provide financial security for Mrs Crowe.

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