Court Papers Reveal UK Asbestos Manufacturer withheld Information
by Connor Burke
Cape, one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers of asbestos historically withheld information on risks posed by asbestos, playing down the dangers, whist simultaneously encouraging the government to alter product warnings laws in order to suit their business goals, according to documents released after a lengthy court battle.
According to the recently released documents, one of their partner companies were considering a warning label for asbestos products back in 1958, but were advised against it by Cape as they said that “a caution label on our products and none on [our competitors] would make our selling efforts most difficult”.
Eventually Cape began to label its product in 1976 using “take care with Asbestos, breathing asbestos dust can damage health”, however they made no reference to the potential risk of mesothelioma.
The documents also show Cape’s historic test data threw up much higher dust quantities than the industry standards accepted regarding levels of exposure, but data that was unfavourable to Cape was withheld.
The case was settled before judgment. Cape resisted disclosure but Graham Dring, the then chair of the forum, succeeded in setting a legal precedent allowing written material placed before a court to be seen by a non-party.
A spokesperson for Cape said: “Cape was taken over in 2017 and its current management cannot comment on this matter, based on historical events that occurred over 40 years ago. However, Cape remains fully committed to the scheme of arrangement that was put in place and approved by a UK court to provide compensation pay-outs and will continue to meet all its obligations associated with that scheme.”
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