Documents saved from destruction thanks to a court battle waged by an asbestos campaign group have revealed UK multinational Cape was aware decades ago of the high risk of fatal cancer from the use of its top selling Asbestolux insulation board, but still pressured the government successfully in the 1960s and 70s to abandon a planned ‘no dust’ policy.
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK says the documents it fought to preserve will be vital to future asbestos compensation cases. They were obtained after the Forum commenced court proceedings in the UK courts against Cape following the 2017 case of Concept 70 Limited v Cape Intermediate Holdings Limited (Cape).
The documents, which were due to be destroyed before the Forum’s intervention, provide ‘extraordinary evidence’ that Cape was aware of the health risks from work with its asbestos insulation board Asbestolux in the 1950s, but in the 1960s and 70s still pressed the UK government to abandon plans for tight controls to protect its sales.
The Forum instructed Harminder Bains, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, to issue an urgent application to preserve the documents. The UK Supreme Court has now agreed the documents should be preserved.
Commenting on the ruling, Joanne Gordon, chair of the Forum, said: “The Forum is now demanding Cape make a donation of £10 million towards mesothelioma research. We believe victims and their families deserve this by way of an apology from Cape for their deliberate deception and shamelessly causing deaths, adding insult by vehemently defending cases.”
Harminder Bains of Leigh Day added the documents “show that Cape knew of the high risk of fatal disease, yet deliberately withheld information and lobbied the government to protect their profits. As a result of their greed many men and women including my father have lost their lives.”
She added: “This cover up would not have come to the light had it not been for the Forum’s persistence.”