Death of former Rolls-Royce electrician due to asbestos exposure, inquest told

A former electrician died after being exposed to asbestos during two stints at Rolls-Royce in Derby. Gordon Clifford started as an apprentice, his inquest was told. He worked there for six years before spending two years in the Army.

In a brief statement read out at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court, Mr Clifford’s son, Richard, said his father then returned to work for Rolls-Royce for a further eight years before he and wife Julia bought a newsagent’s shop which they ran for 30 years.

Although no details were read out as to how Mr Clifford became exposed to the deadly dust, assistant coroner Paul McCandless said he was satisfied that he would have been during his time at Rolls-Royce.

In a statement, Dr Andrew Hitchcock, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Mr Clifford, said he discovered “extensive” malignant mesothelioma in the 82-year-old’s lungs.

Dr Hitchcock said tests found extensive evidence of asbestos fibres. His primary cancer was malignant mesothelioma with a secondary tumour in the thyroid. He gave a cause of death as malignant mesothelioma.

In his statement, Richard Clifford said:

“My father was an apprentice electrician starting at Rolls-Royce at the age of 15 in 1948. He worked there until he was 21 when he joined the Army for his national service, returning in 1956 and working there until 1964 when he bought a newsagent’s shop which he ran for 30 years until his retirement in 1994. He has been retired for 21 years up to the time that he died.”

In reaching a conclusion that Mr Clifford, of South Avenue, Darley Abbey, died as a result of an industrial disease, Mr McCandless said:

“In view of just how extensive the tumour in Mr Clifford’s lung was found to be and the close correlation between malignant mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos at above background levels, I have every reason to believe he was more likely than not to have been exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at Rolls-Royce in Derby.

In those circumstances I am satisfied that death has come about due to the industrial disease of malignant mesothelioma.”