Ex-employee accuses MoD of negligence

A naval airman sues the MoD for allegedly exposing him to fumes, causing asthma that ended his career, reports Roger Pearson

A negligence claim, in which the Ministry of Defence is being sued by a naval airman who claims he was left suffering from asthma as a result of exposure to glue while repairing equipment, is heading for the High Court.

Andrew Marlborough, 35, who was discharged from the Navy as an invalid, is suing the MoD for his condition.

Marlborough worked on survival equipment from 1980 to 1994, and was discharged in October 1995.

He alleges that the asthma that led to his discharge resulted from work maintaining and repairing survival equipment and immersion suits on HMS Illustrious, Gannet, Heron and Osprey, and at the Royal Navy Survival Equipment School HMS Dedalus.

He claims that he was exposed to fumes from methylene bis-4 phenylisocyanate glue solvent, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluere, and other adhesive fumes from Bostik 2402 and Bostik KB156, and as a result developed occupational asthma.

He accuses the MoD of breach of statutory duty and negligence in failing to make and keep safe his workplace, exposing him to fumes which were hazardous and irritant, providing inadequate ventilation, and failing to heed the conclusions of a doctor.

He will allege that the MoD knew he was being over-exposed to solvent fumes but failed to take precautionary steps to prevent the exposure, and failed to ensure suitable health surveillance or provide protective clothing.

He also accuses the MoD of causing short-term peaks in fume conditions that exceeded the statutory maximum limits, and says that it failed to carry out adequate testing of the conditions. He is represented by Lock & Marlborough of London W3.