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Appeal for cancer victim for potential witnesses to asbestos exposure on the HMS Diamede

A former draughtsman suffering from an asbestos-induced cancer is seeking out former colleagues or contractors from his time working on Royal Navy frigate HMS Diamede, where he was exposed to asbestos.

Barry Laffar worked for Graseby Instruments Ltd, a manufacturer of sonar equipment, from 1978 to 1981. He was not knowingly exposed to asbestos at any time in his career, other when he worked on board the HMS Diamede for five days, while the ship was docked in Portsmouth in January 1980. Mr Laffar is looking to get in touch with any former employees or contractors who may also had a similar experience.

Mr Laffar received his diagnosis of mesothelioma in August 2020. Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres, thousands of workers in the UK were exposed to asbestos at the same times as Mr Laffar. Around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past asbestos exposure. (source HSE)

During his time on board HMS Diamede, where he was installing new sonar equipment, Mr Laffar recalls seeing white asbestos lagged pipes in and around the corridors and cabins on board. To install the equipment, he had to pull and feed cables through the cabin walls and up to the decks which disturbed the asbestos pipe lagging, creating the cancerous airborne asbestos dust and fibres. Mr Laffar inhaled the dangerous dust while he worked in cramped cabin areas for up to 10 hours each day.

At the same time as the sonar installation was taking place, the rest of the ship was being refurbished, with other workers on the ship undertaking tasks such as welding, causing additional fumes and dust to be spread around the ship by the ventilation system. Mr Laffar was not provided with protective respiratory equipment.

In order for Mr Laffar’s legal team from Hodge, Jones & Allen to pursue his case, witness testimonies are essential given the latency period between exposure and onset of these illnesses.

Barry Laffar said: “This has been an incredibly tough time, and I hope that anyone I worked with during January 1980 might come forward to help with my case, and to raise awareness to other workers who also might have been exposed to asbestos.

“I am very grateful for the support of both my medical and legal team, who have guided me through this process. The team at Hodge Jones & Allen have been extremely supportive and persistent in helping me get justice, so I hope that the appeal works.”

Isobel Lovett, a Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen representing Mr Laffar, said: “In cases like Mr Laffar’s, witnesses make a huge difference in the search for justice. If people come forward, it allows us to corroborate facts and helps build a strong case in court. Mr Laffar, like the thousands that have suffered at the hands of this awful product, deserves justice. He went to work in good faith for his employer, and due to his exposure, he now has terminal cancer. Going to work should never carry these consequences. .

“Cases like this are heart-breaking, and at Hodge Jones & Allen we are still seeing far too many people still suffering from asbestos-related illnesses. It’s shocking that this problem still exists, and we must do what we can to help sufferers, and their families. We are imploring anyone who worked with Mr Laffar or on board the HMS Diamede around that time, to come forward to help us with this case.”

If you think you could be of help to Mr Laffar’s case, please contact:

Yellow Jersey PR: 

Sarah Jehan, Account Director
T: 0808 239 2247 | 0808 239 5975

Alex Crean, Account Executive
T: 0808 239 3996 | 0808 239 5975