Widow’s fight for justice over asbestos exposure at St Albans firm

Charles Eliot Baker with his wife Shirley Baker

Charles Eliot Baker with his wife Shirley Baker - Credit: Archant

THE BEREAVED widow of a former plumbing and heating engineer who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing to his past colleagues to help her seek justice.

Charles Baker, 72, died in January from a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust allegedly while working at TA King and Son, in Sandridge Road, St Albans.

He passed away just nine months after being diagnosed with the disease and now his wife Shirley Baker is appealing to his former work mates to confirm he was exposed to the dangerous fibre between 1955 and 1966.

She said: “His job meant he came into contact with asbestos every day and it was dirty and dusty work. He said he was never warned about how dangerous asbestos could be to his health or given any protective clothing or a mask to wear to protect him from the worst of it.

“He worked with so many different people and in such a variety of well known buildings in St Albans and Hertfordshire that I’m sure there are people out there who can help me honour his memory.”

Mr Baker was a grandfather of two and was living in Lowestoft in Suffolk when he fell ill in 2011 complaining of chest pains. Initial tests failed to flag up any problems but following further investigations he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May last year.

After his death Mrs Baker, who was married to her husband for 47 years, contacted lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s to help her find out whether TA King and Son could have done more to protect him from asbestos exposure.

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According to the devastated widow he told her during his 10-year career at the firm he regularly came into contact with asbestos and would either have to chip off old asbestos lagging with a hammer or chisel or mix new asbestos paste to lag boilers and pipes.

She added he particularly recalled working at St Michael’s Manor, Hill End Psychiatric Hospital, St Albans Abbey and St Albans City Hospital.

Mrs Baker went on: “It’s been really hard to come to terms with losing Charles to such an awful illness and so soon after he was diagnosed. Just a year earlier he had been given the all-clear after suffering from prostate cancer, so it was a terrible blow to learn he was so sick again and he was unlikely to have long left.

“His illness meant he was in pain and discomfort all the time; he was tired and short of breath and the chemotherapy really knocked him for six.

“He was also upset that he wasn’t well enough to do the gardening and help me round the house as he used to.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Simone Hardy at Irwin Mitchell’s on 0114 2744420 or email simone.hardy@irwinmitchell.com