Asbestos in Schools
Update 120
9 March 2011

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 Result of Supreme Court cases of Dianne Willmore and Sienkiewicz (Costello).

Seven Judges at The Supreme Court said two families can keep compensation awarded by the courts for their loved ones deaths.

Both Dianne Willmore and Enid Costello died of mesothelioma, an asbestos cancer, having had small doses of asbestos dust.

Dianne was exposed whilst a pupil at her school and Mrs Costello during her work.

The Council and employers accepted they would have been negligent in allowing them to be exposed to asbestos.

All seven Law Lords said that the test as to whether or not a person should be compensated should remain as the ‘material contribution’ test and not a ‘doubling of the risk’ test as the Council and employers had suggested.

Even though medically, there is no minimum threshold dose of asbestos below which there is no risk of mesothelioma, the Law Lords had been invited to make a decision as to where the legal line should be drawn, what the legal threshold is.

This case is important for any persons who have small doses of asbestos exposure and get mesothelioma.  It is also important for those who have had exposure in schools since it is the first case for a pupil.

Ruth Davies, Solicitor for Dianne Willmore’s husband Barre says:

‘Barre Wilmore is absolutely delighted about the result.  He knows how pleased Dianne was knowing on her deathbed that her family would be provided for. He was relieved that she was unaware of this appeal. The compensation won’t bring Dianne back but will provide some solace.

These cases were another attack on asbestos disease victims.  The defendants were trying to change the law that has been working perfectly well for many years so that fewer people who are dying can get properly compensated.’

Norman Jones, Solicitor for Enid Costello’s family says:

‘The dangers connected with asbestos exposure and the risks of mesothelioma have been known to employers since the early sixties when the Sunday Times made public the hazards of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.  Employers were left in no doubt of the consequences of exposing their workforce to asbestos after reading this article.  It would be manifestly unfair if the law had been changed to deny victims of one the worst fatal industrial diseases from receiving fair compensation’.




Dianne Willmore

Dianne Willmore was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer at the end of March 2007 at the age of 46.  She gave evidence at court that she had had exposure to asbestos whilst a pupil at Bowring Comprehensive school in Merseyside.

She remembered Council workmen still being present removing ceiling tiles to re-route cables.  She remembered school mates removing ceiling tiles to put blazers into the ceilings as a prank.  She recalled vandalised stacked tiles in the girls’ toilets. Some of these tiles turned out to contain asbestos. 

On 8 and 9 July 2009, Dianne gave evidence at Liverpool High Court.  The Judge found in her favour and awarded her £240,000 less  DWP Benefits.  The Council appealed to the Court of Appeal.

On the 14th October 2010, 3 Judges in the Court of Appeal said that the case should not be overturned. Dianne died the day after the decision was made.



Enid Costello

Enid Costello died aged 74 of mesothelioma in January 2006. She had exposure to asbestos dust whilst working as an office worker at a factory making steel drums between 1964 and 1988. She went into the factory which was at times contaminated with asbestos dust.

Her case was lost at first instance in October 2008 but when her case went to Court of Appeal in November 2009 the three Appeal Judges held in favour of Mrs Costello.

She had not been exposed to asbestos dust during any other employments but she had been exposed to asbestos dust in the general atmosphere.

The employers argued that she had to prove that the asbestos dust that she had from them more than doubled her risk of developing Mesothelioma.



Solicitor for widower, Barre Willmore
Ruth Davies                                         
John Pickering and Partners LLP         
20 Clare Road                                     

Tele: 01422 345535
Fax:  01422 438500

Other contacts
Dominic Collingwood at the above
telephone number
Or Kevin Johnson
Tel: 0151 236 5400


Solicitor for the Costello Family
Norman Jones
27 Hamilton Square
CH41 6AZ

Tele: 0151 647 7001
Fax: 0151 647 7004



Supreme Court rules out asbestos exposure threshold for mesothelioma 

In a landmark decision today, 9th March, involving the deaths of mesothelioma sufferers Diane Wilmore, exposed to asbestos at school, and Enid Costello, exposed to asbestos in a factory, the Supreme Court has handed down a judgment that low levels of exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma.

Both Diane Wilmore and Enid Costello won their cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Both these decisions were appealed by employers who sought to establish a threshold of exposure which could rule out hundreds of potential claims for mesothelioma where there was low level exposure to asbestos.  But, The Supreme Court has ruled that the current test that only requires a material contribution to the risk of developing mesothelioma should stand in such cases.

This case is just one of a long series of cases brought by insurers and employers seeking to deny their liability to pay compensation despite the fact that claimants were negligently exposed to asbestos and later developed the fatal disease, mesothelioma. Diane Wilmore fought her case despite failing health, dying just a day after she heard that the Appeal Court had upheld the High Court judgment.  

Tony Whitston, Forum Chair, says:

“This case involved the wrongful exposure of two people to asbestos, which caused their deaths. There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos. Arguments for a ‘safe’ threshold are everything to do with denying liability for compensation and nothing to do with protecting people. This case not only protects compensation for those who have been negligently exposed to low levels of asbestos, but also gives a warning to those who think that workplaces such as schools, which are heavily contaminated with asbestos, are low risk.”

For further information tel. the Forum: 07748189837 or 0161 636 7555

Notes for Editors

Mesothelioma is a fatal tumour, principally of the lung pleura, for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos

The Supreme Court case: Sienkiewicz (Administratrix of the Estate of Enid Costello Deceased) (Respondent) v Greif (UK) Limited (Appellant)
Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (Appellant) v Willmore (Respondent).

 This is a landmark judgment because many people who had low level exposure to asbestos, e.g. teachers, would have been unable to secure compensation had the judgment gone the other way. 45 teachers died from mesothelioma in the three year period 2006-2008. On average during this period 15 teachers died from mesothelioma each year.

Tony Whitston
Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
M16 7WD
Tel: 0161 636 7555
Fax: 0161 636 7556


These press releases are forwarded for your information. For further details on the effect in schools contact the following:

Further Contacts:

Michael Lees,
tel:     01409 241496
mob:  0791 0947362
Annette Brooke MP
Chair of the Asbestos in Schools group
(The AiS is a group of organisations and individuals who campaign to make schools safe from the dangers of asbestos)
Kriss Payne
Parliamentary Researcher to Annette Brooke MP
MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole
Tel: 020 7219 8193 | Fax: 020 7219 1898

Michael Lees

Authoritative research can be seen at; that is closely referenced with sources, has a search facility so you can find your specific interest and can be quoted. You can also contact us as shown below




1. Press release from John Pickering and Partners solicitors
2.  Background
3. Contacts
4. Asbestos Victims Support Forum Press Release

5. Notes for Editors

6. Further contacts


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