mesothelioma sufferer has received substantial compensation after his employers admitted exposing him to asbestos.

Vaughan Toms, 62, from North West London was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2008 after complaining about being breathless to his doctor.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure for the disease and sufferers often die just months after diagnosis.

Mr Toms was exposed to asbestos while working for BT as a technical officer between 1971 and 1980.

Exposed to asbestos installing cables and during maintenance work

He was exposed to asbestos installing cables during the construction of telephone exchanges in Hampstead and St John’s Wood and maintenance work at BT Tower in Mortimer St, London.

Following his diagnosis he contacted his union, Unite, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors.

Thompsons pursued the claim to a successful outcome against BT who admitted liability.

Mr Toms, who has an 18-year-old son at university said claiming compensation was important as he wanted to make sure his family was provided for.

As a self employed electrician he had planned to continue work until he was 67.

Compensation will help towards specialist treatment

He added that the money will also help towards specialist treatment he is intending to seek in Germany.

He said: “I had not given any thought to being exposed to asbestos until I was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“I had to give up work as soon as I was diagnosed as I was too ill to continue. I was a fit and active man and did not feel my age before then. I had hoped to work until I was 67 and to support my son through university.

“This compensation will help me to fulfil those plans. It has also meant that I can pay for innovative treatment in Germany which may help to extend my life.”

Many asbestos victims were exposed to asbestos in the workplace

Steve Hart from Unite said: “Many of our members were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and, like Mr Toms, were unaware of the danger. While this compensation cannot make up for his suffering the union has been there for him when he and his family needed expert legal advice which has enabled him to achieve peace of mind that his family are now provided for.”

Keith Taylor from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This case shows how important it is for some mesothelioma sufferers to have the case concluded within their lifetime. By achieving a successful settlement our client now knows that the formalities of the claim are resolved and he now has the means to pay for alternative medical treatment.

“Union members are entitled to high quality specialist legal services free of charge and the expertise and experience which this case highlights.”