The BBC is being sued by the widow of a member of its symphony orchestra after her death from cancer caused by him performing in a corporate studio riddled with asbestos for decades.
Patricia Larkin has launched a lawsuit over the death in April of her husband, Christopher, a horn player, from mesothelioma. He was 73 years old.
The case could spark a wave of lawsuits from relatives of people who contracted the disease, caused by exposure to asbestos, after working at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios in London. Larkin played and rehearsed there throughout his nearly 36 years with the orchestra.
The BBC has already admitted responsibility for his death and handed documents to Leigh Day, lawyers representing Patricia Larkin, which show the studios were riddled with dust. Leigh Day also represents the family of another member of the orchestra, violinist Edwin Dodd, who died of mesothelioma at 89 in January.
“As a result of the exposure of these two people to asbestos in Maida Vale and both of whom died of mesothelioma, it is obvious to me that it is of great concern that there are many more. “said Harminder Bains, the lawyer for the two families. .
The BBC has admitted responsibility for Larkin’s death on April 8, the day he died. Bains criticized his refusal to do so earlier, although he disclosed a large amount of documents showing that he had known since at least 1984 about asbestos in the studios.
“Although the BBC ultimately admitted responsibility, it was only after a court case was opened and a request for disclosure was filed. Even then, despite their own documents confirming that asbestos was in the building, the BBC delayed admitting responsibility for several months, ”she said.
“It is unacceptable that despite documents confirming the presence of asbestos in the building, the BBC has filed a defense denying that Mr. Larkin was exposed to asbestos in the course of his work.”
She added: “I have another client who was on display in the same building and therefore I am concerned about the number of BBC staff, musicians and celebrities who may also have been on display.
“These are two identical cases, it just seems unfathomable that there weren’t other employees and celebrities who worked in these studios and who were exposed.”
Barney Larkin, one of the horn player’s three children, said he was concerned that other members of the orchestra or studio staff, such as caterers and cleaners, had breathed in asbestos and developed a mesothelioma. “I am proud that dad worked for the BBC for so long,” he said. “They gave him a fantastic career. He traveled the world and performed amazing concerts and loved being in the symphony orchestra. But I am also angry and sad for my family and for dad that the BBC was negligent… He should have been 10 years old again.
“As a family we want to know: when did the BBC know about the problem and what did it do? Did they let the symphony orchestra continue to play there despite the risks?
Maida Vale is the second BBC building where asbestos has been found. In 2006 the company appealed for people who worked at the Television Center in White City, West London, to come forward because of possible exposure there.
Leigh Day’s claim on behalf of Patricia Larkin points out that although asbestos was removed from the studios while her husband was playing there, “substantial amounts” remained.
An investigation into Larkin’s death found that he “died of the consequences of asbestos exposure,” adding: “It is likely that the exposure took place when Mr. Larkin worked in a studio where there were numerous sources of asbestos in various repair states between 1979 and December 2015. ”An investigation into Dodd’s death found that he had died“ from mesothelioma, caused by exposure to the asbestos when he worked for the BBC from 1966 to 1997 ”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The health and safety of BBC staff and all who use BBC buildings is a major concern and the BBC manages asbestos in accordance with all regulations and requirements. legal.
“Edwin Dodd and Christopher Larkin were both highly regarded and respected members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Our thoughts are with their families in these difficult times. As a court case is pending, we do not consider it appropriate to comment further. “