Ex-Royal Marine from Llangollen was exposed to deadly asbestos

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A FORMER Royal Marine died after exposure to asbestos in a combat zone.

An inquest heard how John Percival Saxton, 78, of, Rhewl near Llangollen, served in terrorist hot spots throughout the Middle East during his 35 years of service.

Mr Saxton died on November 1 last year but he was exposed to asbestos while protecting police stations during an uprising in Cyprus in 1955.

Two of his men where killed during the fighting.

The inquest found Mr Saxton had died from mesothelioma, a cancer thought to be exclusively related to asbestos exposure.

But his family will not be eligible for compensation.

His son Paul said: “The whole family is proud of him. He served his country well.

Having served for more than 30 years for Queen and country and seen active service, the Crown have decided no compensation will be paid due to Crown immunity.

“One has to raise an eyebrow at whether servicemen and women who go abroad and fight for their country and get an industrial illness like this should have Crown immunity placed on them. One would argue that is unjust.”

Mr Saxton served in Oman, Kuwait but it was in Cyprus, where he was based at Amiantos, which was then home to the world’s largest open asbestos works, he suffered the exposure.

Pauline, his wife of more than 50 years, said: “He was always away. It was mainly terrorism they were dealing with in those days. He was in Cyprus for three months they had to man the police stations to protect them.”

The disease lay dormant until Mr Saxton was diagnosed in 2008 and it was unclear what eventually triggered the disease.

Speaking about her husband’s illness, Mrs Saxton said: “Looking back on the marriage it was waiting for death, but we did not know it. That was a blessing.

“The first indication was that he said he felt like he had air in his chest.

“He underwent a lot of treatment. We knew it would not cure it. The pain got worse. He just wanted to get rid of the pain.”

John Gittins, deputy coroner for North East Wales said: “I am satisfied death was caused by exposure to asbestos while in service.”

See full story in the Leader

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