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Simon Allen: M&S prosecuted by HSE for Asbestos Breaches

I read with some concern that Marks & Spencer is currently being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act in respect of possible exposure of contractors and customers to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment of 3 of their stores in 2004-6. Ceiling tiles in the suspended ceilings apparently contained some asbestos. 

As we all too sadly know, very mild exposure from such tiles can have fatal consequences. Diane Willmore's case was decided in the Supreme Court only 4 weeks ago.  She had been a schoolgirl in a school in Merseyside and was exposed when ceiling  tiles were changed in the corridor along which she walked for 1 week and when others in the toilet area were broken due to vandalism. 

Such limited exposure subsequently resulted in her contracting the fatal cancer, mesothelioma from which she died before her case successfully concluded.

If M&S is found guilty it is very disturbing for a leading company, trusted by the public, and with a clear knowledge of the dangers of asbestos, should not have exposed  anyone to these dangerous fibres. The decision of the court is awaited with interest.

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