Asbestos caused death of retired air force office

A RETIRED air force officer died after being exposed to asbestos while serving in an underground bunker overseas, an inquest has heard.

Peter Gordon Harding, 80, had been healthy and fit most of his life when he served for the Royal Air Force for more than 26 years at various locations across the world. He had also worked for Cheshire County Council before retiring in 1988.

But Mr Harding, of Norton Avenue, Saltney, developed a cough several years ago which did not go away. His health deteriorated and he died on October 29.

Mr Harding is survived by his wife Sylvia and his daughter Sandra Jane.

The Chester inquest was told Mr Harding had worked as an airman in communications as a telegraphist.

His wife Sylvia said he had at one point been positioned in Maastricht where he worked in a communications bunker underground.

“That’s where I believe he came into contact with asbestos,” she said. “I have discovered talking to people it was a known fact.

“He did say the piping there was lagged. Another chap said he could see it in the atmosphere. In fact, the Americans would not even work in there.”

She added: “When he became ill the RAF awarded him a disability pension.”

Pathologist Dr Natalie Meara, who carried out a post-mortem examination, determined cause of death was malignant mesothelioma, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

In recording a verdict of death caused by an industrial disease, assistant deputy coroner for Cheshire Michael Wallbank said: “His health had always been good and he had always been fit but then he developed a cough which didn’t improve. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“I heard he was at a time exposed to asbestos when he was working in a bunker in Holland in Maastricht.

“Of what I have heard, there are the links necessary to make a connection.”