A BEREAVED husband has paid loving tribute to the courage of his wife who died after exposure to asbestos.

In a landmark judgement yesterday the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the relatives of Dianne Willmore, of Rossett, and Enid Costello, of Merseyside, who both fell victim to malignant mesothelioma.

The ruling is expected to pave the way for similar claims from many other cancer sufferers exposed to “low levels” of asbestos.

Mrs Willmore died in October 2009, aged 49, the day after a judge said she was entitled to £240,000 compensation.

The award, made against Knowsley Council for negligently exposing her to asbestos fibres, was frozen while appeals took place.

The mother-of-two contracted the cancer after apparently being exposed to asbestos dust while a pupil at Bowring School in Huyton, in the 1970s.

She later moved to the Wrexham area and married her husband Barre seven years ago.

Mr Willmore, who has been devastated by her death, did not want to comment on the details of the case’s outcome but said his wife had fought for justice.

He said: “Dianne was caring, beautiful, clever and I loved her so much.

“She was absolutely lovely with a fabulous personality and incredible memory – a woman of outstanding dignity.”

Mrs Willmore first started to notice trouble with his wife’s health about four years ago when she had difficulty walking up hills.

“She was very fit and loved to go out into the countryside. When we were in Snowdonia once she was having trouble with steep inclines, which just wasn’t like her at all.”

Mr Willmore said he had been astonished by the protracted legal process surrounding the court case.

He said: “It has taken 17 judges for us to get to where we are today.

“I would certainly question how on earth the council involved can justify its stance when you think of all the money wasted over this.”

Mr Willmore, a former soldier who served in the Parachute Regiment and Military Police, praised the NHS medical care his wife received throughout her treatment.

He also said the lawyers involved in the court case – John Pickering and Partners – had been excellent.

Mr Willmore’s solicitor Ruth Davies said: “Barre Willmore is absolutely delighted about the result.

“He knows how pleased Dianne was knowing on her death bed 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.”

A spokesman for Knowsley Council said: “It has always been clear Mrs Willmore suffered from a severe illness which was caused by exposure to asbestos and the council is, and always has been, extremely sympathetic towards Mrs Willmore and her family.”

Mrs Costello was said to have breathed in dust containing asbestos when she was a secretary at a packaging factory in Ellesmere Port.

The compensation claim was against her former employer Greif (UK) Ltd.
The Court of Appeal ruled compensation should be paid in both cases, but Knowsley Council and Greif UK fought the rulings in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

Yesterday seven Supreme Court justices unanimously dismissed their appeals.