A gardener who was diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer and told he has only months to live has been awarded £205,000, with the help of UNISON.

The UK’s largest public sector union helped Mr Gaffney claim the compensation after he was exposed to asbestos while working for the University of Liverpool during the 1980s.

The 57-year-old, from Liverpool, took his lunch breaks in the boiler room at the university, which had asbestos insulation.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma

The father of two and granddad to five was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs, in February 2008.

There is no cure for the disease and he has been told he has only months to live.

Following his diagnosis, Mr Gaffney contacted UNISON. The union’s solicitors, Thompsons, pursued the claim for twelve months in the High Court, in London.

Asbestos victim wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos

Mr Gaffney said: “I am pleased that we have won, but this is still a death sentence.

“There is nothing more doctors can do for me now and I’ve got five grandkids that I will never see grow up.

“I am just taking every day as it comes. You get depressed, but you have to put it to the back of your mind, you can’t let it get you down.

“Last year they gave me ten months to live and I don’t know how much longer I’ve got now, but hopefully the operation will have extended it a bit.

“As far as we were concerned we were safe, but I have since learnt about the dangers of asbestos, including the fact that it can be in your system for fifty years.

“I hope this case helps create awareness of the risks for others.”

People are still suffering the consequences of being exposed to asbestos at work

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said: “Whilst we are delighted with the settlement awarded to Mr Gaffney, the money can never replace the years he will lose with his family.

“It is a disgrace that he was exposed to these dangers.

“Many people are still suffering the consequences of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.”

Janine Carey from Thompsons Solicitors said: “After decades of dedicating himself to work at the University of Liverpool our client was devastated when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“He had no idea that eating his lunch in the asbestos polluted environment of the University boiler room would eventually cause a fatal illness.

“It is only right he is compensated for the devastating effects of his employer’s negligence.

“His union was instrumental in ensuring that he received specialist legal advice which enabled his claim to be resolved successfully during his lifetime.”