Former Heinz factory worker launches High Court action claiming he was exposed to asbestos at Harlesden site

Alan Simpson, 67, is suing for �100,000 damages after developing asbestosis

A pensioner who claims he has been blighted by exposure to asbestos during a lifetime of work at a Harlesden factory has launched a High Court fight for compensation.

Alan Simpson, 67, worked at the Heinz plant in Waxlow Road, for more than 30 years until 1997.

Starting out as a line worker before his 21st birthday, Mr Simpson, who now lives in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, claims he later moved on to the factory’s maintenance department where he worked as a trainee plumber.

The factory closed in 2000, but Mr Simpson says that, while he worked there, much of the plant’s pipework was lagged with blue asbestos in poor condition and he was exposed to dust without realising the potential consequences for his future health.

According to a writ filed in the High Court by his lawyers, Mr Simpson has developed asbestosis in both lungs and must live in fear of developing mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs often linked to asbestos exposure.

His condition is complicated by unrelated emphysema and Mr Simpson is on long-term oxygen therapy to deal with his serious breathing difficulties.

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Exposure to asbestos is claimed to have robbed him of several years of life expectancy.

Mr Simpson is suing Wigan-based H.J Heinz Ltd for up to �100,000 in damages.

The company was one of the biggest employers in Brent until its closure.

It has denied liability in the case which will come to court at a later date unless a settlement is reached before then.