UNISON member Alan died after developing mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos throughout much of his career. He worked initially as an apprentice carpenter, before taking a role as a foreman and later a building surveyor. His work often meant he would come into contact with asbestos materials.

Following his death and diagnosis post-mortem, his wife, Pat, turned to her UNISON and contacted Thompsons Solicitors’ asbestos specialists to make a compensation claim against the insurers of his former employer, Thurrock Council.

"On my own I would have given up long ago, in view of the Council’s attitude, but Thompsons went the extra mile for me to ensure they were forced to own up to their failings.”

Pat Jolliffe, Thompsons Solicitors' asbestos client

Pat said: “All I want is to help other victims or their families to know where to go for specialist support and advice if they find themselves in the same awful situation as me. It’s not about the money. Alan should not have been taken from us so soon.”

UNISON and Thompsons Solicitors fought Pat’s case and, after Court proceedings were issued, Thurrock Council admittedly liability and compensation was secured.

She continued: “It seems to me that the Council and their insurers just hoped we would go away but Thompsons Solicitors and UNISON supported me and my family all the way.

“My solicitor was fantastic – with her local knowledge and expertise in asbestos matters, she was able to find a number of Alan’s former colleagues, secured supportive statements from them and she obtained answers we were searching for. On my own I would have given up long ago, in view of the Council’s attitude, but Thompsons went the extra mile for me to ensure they were forced to own up to their failings.”

The solicitor that supported Pat with her claim added: “Where we have to, we issue cases such as Alan’s in the specialist section of the High Court in London using our national size and specialist expertise, to fight for victims and their families where other firms simply give up. Having handled asbestos claims for so long, I know it can take a lot of hard work, dedication to a case and particularly knowledge of where to look and how to gather evidence to force defendants to accept blame and admit they caused the death of a former worker. This particular case should have been settled by the Council and its insurers long ago, but they simply refused to properly deal with it until we issued Court proceedings. Why they put Pat and her family through this additional upset and turmoil is beyond me.

“We are committed to our clients and we are always prepared to go the extra mile – whether that be to obtain expert evidence from specialists or to search through decades of previous cases in order to get the evidence we need to get the right result.”