A COUNCIL could face a huge compensation claim following the death of a former worker who feared his illness was brought on by exposure to asbestos dust.

The son of Cyril Rowe, who worked at Taunton Deane Borough Council's Priory depot in Taunton for 22 years, has instructed lawyers to look into the case.

A law firm has appealed for colleagues of Mr Rowe, who died aged 64 a year ago, to come forward to give evidence on working conditions in the premises.

The once healthy and active father-of-three had been diagnosed with incurable mesothelioma just two months before his death and his family have concerns he may have been exposed to asbestos at the depot, where he worked from 1994 to 2016.

After he was diagnosed with the disease, which is brought on years later after exposure to asbestos fibres and causes severe breathlessness, Mr Rowe asked lawyers Simpson Millar to investigate his employment history and the potential presence of asbestos in his workplace.

His son, Adam, has taken up the search for answers regarding whether more could and should have been done to protect his father.

He said: "It was heart breaking when my father was diagnosed with mesothelioma early last year.

"Up until that point, he was very fit and healthy, doing a lot of running and working part time as a caretaker.

“In February 2018 he noticed breathlessness and was sent for an X-ray, tests and a CT scan. He had to have three litres of fluid drained from one of his lungs. He was so scared, and he wanted answers for why it had happened to him.

"Sadly, he passed away on April 16 2018, just two months after the diagnosis.

"My family and I are desperate for answers, and would urge anyone who worked with him during 1994 and 2016 to come forward to give evidence on the conditions."

Adam added: "Before his death, he spoke often about his time working with the council, often referencing the discovery of asbestos in the building and talking about how there was regular maintenance work carried out which resulted in the walls being drilled into, which would likely have released asbestos dust.

"He also said that in or around 2012 there was maintenance and repair works when IT installed new cabling, but none of the team could be in the office as they were 'disturbing something', and therefore the work had to be done on a Saturday.

"After the work, nothing was mentioned about the air safety, and my dad said that with hindsight it was highly likely he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres during this time, and that he and his colleagues were not properly protected against."

Simpson Millar's Helen Grady, who specialises in industrial disease claims, said: "This is a deeply upsetting time for Cyril’s family and they all deserve some answers as to why this exposure was allowed.

"We are looking into the exposure, and we are hoping to speak to more witnesses who have any information on the conditions when working for Taunton Deane Borough Council during the time he worked there."

A council spokesman said: "We are unable to comment on matters relating to an individual employee."

Taunton Deane Borough Council no longer exists after it merged with West Somerset Council to this month form Somerset West and Taunton Council.

we are unable to comment on matters relating to an individual employee.