Damages agreed over death of police officer due to Brighton bombing asbestos
Two police forces have reached a settlement to pay compensation to the family of an officer who died as a result of contact with asbestos in the aftermath of the IRA’s bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Conservative Party conference.
The BBC said it had received confirmation from Sussex Police that it had settled a claim involving a former Met Police officer in February. The claim amount was split between the London and Sussex forces, with a police spokesman stating that the exact figure had not been disclosed.
A tragic “sixth victim” of the attack
Jonathan Woods worked as a forensic officer, and was one of the first on the scene of the attack. His death was reported in December 2015, and last year, Sussex Police warned emergency workers who were present at the site that they could have been exposed to lethal asbestos fibres.
Five people died and 34 were injured in the blast aimed at then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet in October 1984, when party members were staying at the hotel. Following the alert from Sussex Police, lawyers for Mr Woods said he had been sifting through dust and rubble by hand at the site for 14 days, searching for evidence.
They described him as the attack’s “sixth victim”, adding that 14 other Met officers and 15 Sussex officers accompanied him, and would have therefore also theoretically come into contact with the now-banned and potentially fatal material.
The lawyers added, in a statement issued in June last year: “Hopefully the ambulance service crews and fire services who attended above ground would not have been exposed to the same extent.”
Although Sussex Police has been in contact with and sent letters to 154 people, it has said it has received no further legal claims. There has been no comment on the settlement from Mr Woods’ family and his legal representatives.
Another sad reminder of the continuing danger of asbestos
Although this case may relate to much more unusual circumstances than have been seen in many other recent high-profile asbestos cases, it is nonetheless another reminder of the deaths and devastation that continue to occur to families as a result of exposure to the fibres often dating back many decades.
It should also alert organisations and individuals alike of the importance of doing everything possible to lessen any asbestos risk that could be posed to users of their buildings today. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team now to learn more about our industry-leading asbestos air testing and related services.