Wednesday 30 March 2011

ups and downs

After a start to the first day of the rest of our lives that lifted the spirits, we were brought back down to earth with a jolt yesterday by the arrival of a letter from the solicitor acting for Steve in his damages claim.  

We weren't surprised to hear that only one of the six samples tested recently contained asbestos - after all, there has been a comprehensive programme of stripping out the stuff from 1974 onwards.  However, we were surprised that Counsel's opinion is now being sought on whether to proceed with the case in the light of these samples.  

There are pages and pages of evidence in the disclosed documents identifying all types of asbestos (amosite, crocidolite and chrysotile) which has been found in the building over the years, from insulation board under windows, to asbestos paper lining around pipes and under lagging, to asbestos in the floor tiles and bitumen adhesive..) on the floor where Steve knocked down walls to create an open plan studio, and on lower floors which are identical in construction. 

I spent much of yesterday afternoon going through the disclosed documents again, collating evidence into a readily digestible schedule (the paper work as submitted is a complete shambles). I've already itemized over 20 positive samples and there's loads more worksheets to go through. Why should five negative samples taken in February 2011 weigh more than all the positive samples from the same building taken at the same time and over the intervening years?  

We would like the disclosed documents to be reviewed by a different expert witness who can cast a fresh eye over the evidence.  That said, we are not sure whether we can instruct the solicitor to do this, or whether the legal team can decline such a request.  We'll just have to wait and see.

However, it wasn't all negative yesterday. The five large boxes of kit taking up most of the hall were collected in the afternoon, and we spent a wonderful evening with friends which lasted well into the early hours of this morning. Many thanks Ian and Ruth for a great meal and lively conversation!

Today my P45 arrived in the post, along with the last pay slip and other "retirement" card.  Steve said to me, from now on when a stranger asks "what do you do?" how will you reply?  I'll have to think about that!

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