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Appeal for witnesses following former Essex council worker death

The daughter of a former Essex carpenter who died last month of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is seeking answers as to how his former employer, Essex County Council, allowed him to be exposed to the toxic dust.

Carol Scarlett is appealing to her father’s ex-colleagues to come forward with information regarding the working conditions in the Construction Department of Essex County Council between 1973 and 1987.

A normally fit and healthy man, 94 year-old Norman Samuel Scarlett, widower and father of two daughters, started to become short of breath and fatigued in autumn last year. He sought medical help and was horrified to be told that he was suffering from mesothelioma, caused by his exposure to asbestos.

As the disease progressed he became less physically able and was in considerable pain. As a result, his daughter, Carol, had to spend more and more time caring for him at the family home in Roxwell, Chelmsford.

Mr Scarlett’s family have now instructed expert asbestos and mesothelioma compensation lawyers, Hodge Jones & Allen, based in London, to investigate exactly how he was exposed to asbestos dust and to find out if more could have been done by his former employers to protect him from the lethal substance.

Mr Scarlett told his lawyers that he had been exposed to asbestos whilst he was working as a carpenter in Essex County Council’s construction department, where he worked from around 1973 to 1987. The construction department was based in Chelmsford near the main train station. It housed the Carpenter’s, Painters’, Plumbing and Brick Work Departments. The ceiling of the Carpenters’ Department comprised asbestos tiles which were in a state of disrepair and asbestos lagged pipes ran above where Norman worked. Asbestos was later removed from the building.

Norman was only provided with a thin paper mask, which would have offered no protection against the deadly fibres he was inhaling.

The Coroner in Chelmsford has begun inquiries into the exact cause of Mr Scarlett’s death and is expected to reach a conclusion at an inquest in the coming months.

Carol Scarlett says: “Dad was very hardworking and thorough in his work. He was a quiet man who enjoyed being creative. When retired, he developed a Wild West cowboy circus act. He didn’t have an easy life. During the Second World War, he was captured at the Battle of Anzio in Italy and became a prisoner of war.

“Dad’s Mum lived until she was 98 and I thought Dad would live until his late 90s too. He was always very fit and took pride keeping in good physical shape. He was very active until his illness made him too sick to enjoy his life.

“Dad was very ill with mesothelioma for five months. He became extremely tired and frail due to being off his food and being extremely breathless on exertion. It was very sad to watch a very strong, brave and caring man become so frail due to mesothelioma.”

Mr Scarlett’s family has asked if anyone has information that may help to contact their solicitor Isobel Lovett at Hodge Jones & Allen on 020 7874 8502 or email

Mr Scarlett’s funeral takes place this Friday, 24th March at 2pm at Chelmsford Crematorium.