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Written on 11th December 2018 by Martin Anderson

Turner & Newall were a leading manufacturer of asbestos products. They were based in Manchester but operated all over the country.  

The manufacture and use of asbestos products is now banned in the UK. Turner & Newall went into administration in 2001 but their use of asbestos has left a very sad legacy. Former workers and their families have contracted asbestos-related diseases, as have others who lived in close proximity to Turner & Newall factories. In many cases, the disease is terminal.

Turner & Newall concealed the dangers of asbestos

The danger to Turner & Newall workers was apparent as early as 1924, after the death of Nellie Kershaw, a worker at their Rochdale factory. At the inquest into her death, Dr William Edmund Cooke testified that his examination of the lungs showed extensive fibrosis in which were visible "particles of mineral matter... of various shapes, but the large majority have sharp angles”. Cooke concluded that they "originated from asbestos and were, beyond a reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death".

Despite this, the company denied liability and refused to pay any compensation to her family. Although Turner & Newall were aware of the dangers, they continued to manufacture and use asbestos products into the 1990s.  

Over the years, the lengths the company went to in order to conceal the dangers of asbestos are shocking. In 1955, an academic named Richard Doll completed an epidemiological study in Rochdale, home of the factory where Nellie Kershaw worked. This established a link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. After trying to prevent him from publishing the findings, Turner & Newall then persuaded its own scientist, Dr John Knox, to draft a paper discrediting Doll’s work.  

They were also assisted by Cyril Smith, the Rochdale MP. In 1981, he wrote to Sydney Marks, head of personnel at Turner & Newall, informing him that the House of Commons were to debate European regulations on asbestos and asking him what he would like him to say in the debate. The draft sent to him by Turner & Newall is almost identical to the speech delivered by Smith, which argued that there should be less regulation and that the public were not at risk.  

The company went into administration in 2001. Does this mean that former Turner & Newall workers and other people affected by Turner & Newall’s practises are unable to claim compensation if they are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease?

The Turner & Newall scheme

A trust fund has been set up to process and pay all valid asbestos disease claims for which Turner & Newall companies have legal responsibility.  This means that, if you have an asbestos-related disease as a result of being exposed to asbestos by a Turner & Newall company, you may be eligible to claim compensation through the Turner & Newall scheme.

The process is different from asbestos disease claims against other companies, however, Boyes Turner’s specialist asbestos disease lawyers have extensive experience of dealing with such claims and can guide you through the application process.  We have made claims on behalf of people who worked for various Turner & Newall companies, including:

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we may be able to help. Contact us on 0800 884 0718 or email for a free initial discussion.