Parliament electrical engineer who kept notes about safety concerns is killed by mesothelioma

A retired electrical engineer at the Houses of Parliament who died from asbestos-related cancer kept dairies for nearly 20 years detailing his safety concerns about the building.

Frederick Hodge, who supervised maintenance of boilers and pipes in the Palace of Westminster during the 1970s and early 1980s died in August from mesothelioma.

Lawyers say a series of other cases has begun to emerge involving former employees said to be suffering from exposure to the toxic dust.

It raises the prospect that generations of people who worked in Parliament, including MPs, peers and civil servants, may have been affected.

t comes as MPs prepare to vote on whether to move Parliament out of its historic home for up to six years for major renovations including removing asbestos which was used widely in post-war reconstruction because of its fire-retardant qualities.

Mr Hodge, who was 80, only learnt he was suffering from the condition shortly before he died.

Clearing out his belongings, Mr Hodge’s sons found nearly 20 years of diaries in which their father describes working life at the Houses of Parliament, including entries specifically referring to voicing safety concerns almost 40 years ago.

Solicitors from the law firm Fieldfisher are using the diaries as the basis for a case for compensation over a failure to take adequate steps to protect him.

Although Mr Hodge’s former employer the Ministry of Public Building and Works no longer exists, the case is expected to be brought against the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as its successor.

Lawyers say the entries show that it was likely he was working in an unprotected environment as he supervised maintenance of boilers and pipes lagged with asbestos.

They also include mention of his concern about air testing parts of the building. In one excerpt he remarked:

“Not happy with method taking bulk samples. Speak to Safety Office.”

Shaheen Mosquera, a solicitor representing Mr Hodge’s family, is also handling the case of a 56-year-old Essex man who worked as an insulation engineer at the Houses of Parliament in the 1980s and is now suffering from another asbestos-related lung disease.  She said:

“This man worked with blue asbestos in the Houses of Parliament, the most lethal form.

He remembers having to remove his protective mask on several occasions when the air supply failed and not being told he had to be clean-shaven for the mask to fit properly.

He also recalls that air tests failed in the areas he and fellow workers had their lunch and tea breaks.”