Six-figure settlement for widow whose husband died of asbestos exposure after playing on RAF Bovingdon as a child

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Their lawyers secured a six-figure settlement from the Ministry of Defence

The wife of a man who died of asbestos exposure after playing on a derelict RAF base in Dacorum as a child has won a six-figure settlement.

Marie’s husband, Adam Phillips died in 2021, three years after being diagnosed with mesothelioma - a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure. Adam, 65, was exposed to the material while playing on the derelict Ministry of Defence site at RAF Bovingdon, near to where his family lived.

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Marie said: “It’s terrible to think that something as innocent as playing as a child all those years ago could lead to such suffering. Adam was a good man and didn’t deserve to see his life ended in this way and through no fault of his own, spend his last years facing pain and treatment.”

Pictured: Adam PhillipsPictured: Adam Phillips
Pictured: Adam Phillips

Adam, who was a rare goldsmith and watchmaker, enlisted the help of specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness. Following his death, Marie took on his case in his memory and the lawyers reached a six-figure settlement from the Ministry of Defence.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “The Ministry of Defence considers claims on the basis of its legal liability and can confirm that a settlement was reached out of court in this tragic case.”

Before his death, he had explained that he and his friends played around the semi-circular Nissen Huts on site, made from asbestos panels. The boys would bring their go-karts to the site and crash into the huts, causing asbestos dust to be released.

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According to Irwin Mitchell, there were no warnings of asbestos on site, no ‘keep out’ signs and no fencing to prevent children from using the disused airfield as a playground.

Before the diagnosis, Adam had developed symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. He underwent chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, but his health declined rapidly and he died in July 2021.

Maria explained: “The time from Adam’s diagnosis to his decline and death was devastating. It all feels like yesterday and it’s hard to believe a year has passed since I lost my husband and my best friend.”

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She added: “All our plans for our future are now in ruins and I’m not sure either me or the family will ever fully get over it.”

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Asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell, Emma Guy, represented Adam’s family. She said: “As a boy playing with friends on an abandoned airfield, Adam had no idea of the danger he and his friends were exposed to.”

Emma continued: “Adam and Marie had so many plans for their future but these have been dashed by his death. While no settlement can ever make up for this, Marie hopes that by speaking out, some good can come out of Adam’s death and act as a reminder of why safety regarding asbestos remains such an important issue.”

Adam leaves behind a son Ben, and two grandchildren. But Marie hopes that by sharing Adam’s story, the family can warn others of the dangers of asbestos and that people still need to be aware of the risks: “Mesothelioma is such a terrible disease and I know Adam would want some good to come of his death.”

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