Ministry of Defence Asbestos Review Conclusions

13 Dec 2019

Following concerns with the historic operation of Sea King helicopters at various locations in the south of England, The Ministry of Defence conducted a detailed asbestos review.

In a letter to the Unite trade union, the defence minister Annabel Goldie said: “Regrettably, this work exposed failings beyond Sea King, and it is now clear that ACM (asbestos-containing materials) have not been properly identified and tracked across a range of equipment platforms.”

Lady Goldie admitted that the review had discovered asbestos at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and that two out of four hangars had been closed for a cleanup. Asbestos was also found at MoD Lyneham in Wiltshire, where three hangars had to be closed, and at the MoD vehicle and equipment storage site in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire.

In her letter, Lady Goldie went on to say: “It is not possible to individually identify and contact everyone that may potentially have come into contact with [asbestos-containing materials] on Sea King or other platforms.” She concluded that senior leaders were “now engaged [with the issue] collectively in a way that they perhaps previously were not, at least in the recent past.”

As reported in a previous article in the asbestos disease section of our website, the annual death toll from asbestos exposure in the UK is at a historic high. The most recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2017 there were 2,523 deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the organs caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. It is estimated that a similar number of people died that year from asbestos-related lung cancers.

John Hall, the head of personal injury and a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Trethowans, said Lady Goldie’s letter made for disturbing reading. “Because of the extraordinarily widespread use of asbestos right up to 1980s, there continues to be a significant problem with asbestos disease in the UK. I am busier than ever with asbestos cases at a time when it was once predicted that the number of people struck down with illness would be in decline. The dreadful legacy of asbestos is as current as ever.”

If you or a member of your family has been affected by asbestos exposure during employment with the MOD or any other employer, contact John Hall today on 02380 820526 for expert help and guidance on your particular asbestos compensation claim.



John Hall