Eastbourne teacher "killed by lethal book dust"

First published in News by

An Eastbourne teacher’s widow believes he was killed by asbestos dust on history books.

Susan Beck, whose husband Neville died from asbestos-related cancer, is suing East Sussex County Council for not protecting him from the deadly particles in his classroom.

In papers filed at the High Court, Mrs Beck and Zoe Pilkington – the executors of the Eastbourne history teacher’s estate – are seeking compensation of more than £200,000 for his death.

According to the claim, Mr Beck was exposed to asbestos in a cupboard where he stored his books during more than 20 years of teaching.

The writ said: “The deceased was employed as a history teacher at Ratton Secondary School between about 1972 and 1998 during the course of which he was exposed to foreseeably harmful levels of asbestos.

“In the classroom, there was a large floor-to-ceiling cupboard which contained two shelves which were made of asbestos.

“The deceased kept his books and equipment in the cupboard. He placed items in and took items out of the cupboard several times every day.

“The cupboard was locked outside of lessons so that the cleaners did not have access to it.

The cupboard and shelves were not cleaned by anyone else.

“There was asbestos dust in the cupboard and, in particular, on the two shelves and which was sufficient in quantity for the deceased to have to wipe the dust and other items when they were taken out.

“The deceased was not provided with any respiratory protection nor warning about the risks of asbestos inhalation.

“As a result of the exposure he developed malignant mesothelioma as a result of which he suffered pain, injury, loss and damage and died prematurely on April 14, 2009 aged 71 years and one month.”

A spokeswoman for East Sussex County Council said she could not comment on the case as it was still ongoing.

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