THE asbestos timebomb has claimed the life of a retired York civil servant.

An inquest heard that widower Henry Moss, 77, of The Close, Clifton, died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

But York Coroner Donald Coverdale said it was impossible to say with certainty how he came to breathe in the deadly asbestos dust.

Recording an open verdict, he said it had not been an easy case to deal with.

He said Mr Moss had worked in the Prison Service, visiting factories to look for work to be carried out by prisoners.

“He might have been exposed to asbestos in those circumstances,”

he said.

But he said Mr Moss’s father had also worked as a boilerman, and it was possible there had been asbestos dust on his clothes when he came home.

There was no evidence he had lived in an area where there was asbestos in the air.

“He had no knowledge of exposure to asbestos,” he told the inquest, which was held at New Earswick Folk Hall.

Mr Moss’s son declined to comment after the inquest.

Scores of York people have been killed by mesothelioma over recent decades, many of whom worked at the former carriageworks in Holgate Road, where there was widespread exposure to asbestos dust.

There have also been cases in which the wives of former carriageworks employees have contracted the disease years later, because of asbestos dust which they breathed in when washing their husband’s discarded overalls.

The tragedy sparked the launch in 2006 of a support group to provide practical help for York victims and their families and campaign for better treatment by the authorities.

Last year, an additional self-help group was launched by the support group to provide an opportunity for people devastated by the illness to get together and share their experiences.

Disease campaigner welcomes ruling

THE founder of a York support group for asbestos victims has hailed a High Court judgement which will make it easier for some sufferers and their families to claim compensation.

In a long-running case between victims’ families, employers and insurance firms, a judge has ruled that insurance firms are liable for cases of asbestos-related cancer at the time of exposure, rather than when a worker becomes ill.

For many years, insurers paid compensation for the fatal lung disease mesothelioma on the basis that their liability arose at the time when a worker was exposed to asbestos dust.

But, two years ago, the Court of Appeal ruled in a different legal context that liability was “triggered” when the disease actually developed – sometimes after 40 years or more – rather than at the time of exposure.

As a result, insurers stopped paying on a “time of exposure”

basis and argued they were not liable because the risk cover they provided 40 years ago was no longer in force. Kim Daniells, who founded and co-ordinates the York Asbestos Support Group, said: “This is very good news. We are delighted with the judgment.”

She said it was unlikely to affect victims of asbestos who worked at the York Carriageworks, but could have an impact on other people who worked elsewhere where they were exposed to the deadly dust.

“It should enable some mesothelioma victims to proceed with claims that have been on hold because of this case.”