UNISON, the UK's largest public sector trade union, has won substantial compensation for the family of George Dickerson, who died after being exposed to asbestos as a child. 

George developed mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung, after playing in dust which blew out of the Cape asbestos factory in Barking. The disease lay dormant until 2006, and George died in August that year, leaving his wife Shirley, daughter Jane and two grandsons. 

Before he retired George worked with adults with learning difficulties and was a member of public sector workers' union, UNISON.

Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary for London, said: "It is shocking that Mr Dickerson died as a result of playing in the street as a young child. UNISON was pleased to support his claim, as Cape needed to take responsibility for the devastating effect of the asbestos dust. 

"This compensation will never make up for the loss of a husband, father and grandfather, however, we hope it will be a comfort to Mr Dickerson's family to know that Cape has been held to account."

Exposed to asbestos as a child

George's daughter, Jane Jones, said her dad was angry that he was exposed to asbestos at such a vulnerable age. She said: "As soon as he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he knew it had been caused by playing with the asbestos when he was a child.

"He was angry about it because nothing was done to protect local residents from the asbestos. He wanted to make people aware about the factory's negligence and he wanted the owners to take responsibility.

"Mesothelioma is a terrible illness that no one should ever have to go through or see what it does to someone they love. There may well be many people throughout the local area who are living with the condition. My father's case proves that you do not have to work with asbestos to be affected.”

Ann-Marie Christie, client representative at Thompsons Solicitors, who took the case for UNISON added: "This case shows how the negligence of the asbestos industry not only affects their workers, but also those who lived nearby asbestos factories.

"Mr Dickerson suffered a painful and degrading terminal illness because, as a child, he played outside his home; something all children should be able to do safely."