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Ex-shop fitter, 74, sues Richard Branson for more than £200,00

Ex-shop fitter, 74, sues Richard Branson for more than £200,000 saying he got cancer from asbestos while working in tycoon’s flagship Virgin Records store in Oxford Street

  • Bernard Jones worked at the flagship Virgin store between 1971 and 1973
  • He claims he was told to sweep up asbestos dust during refurbishment works
  • His lawyers claim Mr Jones was never informed that the dust was dangerous 
  • Mr Jones claims the asbestos exposure will cost him 12 year of life 

Multi-millionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson is being sued for damages of more than £200,000 by a cancer victim who claims he developed as a result of exposure to asbestos while working at Sir Richard’s flagship Virgin Records store in Oxford Street.

Shop fitter Bernard Jones, 74, says he has developed the terminal disease malignant mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos when he worked at the store, and another Virgin store in London.

Now he is suing Sir Richard Branson personally, and Virgin Records Ltd for damages for his injuries, and claiming among other things that the disease will cut his life short by more than 12 years.

Shop fitter Bernard Jones, 74, says he has developed the terminal disease malignant mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos when he worked at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street in London

Mr Jones, of Llanfoist, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, says he was exposed to deadly asbestos dust and fibres when he worked at Virgin Record stores in Oxford Street and Sloane Street, London, between about 1971 and 1973.

The Oxford Street store used to be a shoe shop and in a team of six fitters, he ripped out old asbestos insulation boards and sheets with hammers and crow bars, which produced clouds of asbestos dust, according to a writ issued in London’s High Court and recently made publicly available.

At the end of the each day Mr Jones says he swept up asbestos dust and debris, and later installed Asbestolux boards containing asbestos in the stores, working alongside carpenter who cut the boards. He also sometimes slept on site at the Sloane Street store, he claims.

Mr Jones is suing Virgin and Richard Branson personally for damages after he first developed symptoms of mesothelioma in early 2020

Mr Jones is suing Virgin and Richard Branson personally for damages after he first developed symptoms of mesothelioma in early 2020

The High Court papers say that Mr Jones first developed symptoms of mesothelioma in early 2020, and that a letter was sent to Virgin Records in July 2020 outlining the claim but that this letter was not even acknowledged.

It is claimed his solicitors then sent a follow-up letter and email reminding Virgin that Mr Jones has a limited life expectancy, but that again the firm did not respond.

He suffered from increasing breathlessness and chest pain in early 2020, leading to a respiratory disability of about 40 per cent, the says the writ.

It says that by June 2020 he needed slow release morphine for pain and was treated with immunotherapy.

His prognosis is bleak, the writ says, and he faces a future of increasingly severe pain, breathlessness and debility, before probably becoming completely incapacitated. He is likely to need constant nursing care.

Mr Jones accuses Sir Richard and Virgin Records of negligence, saying they set him to work in conditions where he was exposed to substantial amounts of asbestos, caused him to rip out asbestos boards, sweep up asbestos dust and debris, work alongside others installing Asbestolux without respiratory protection, and failed to warn him of the dangers. 

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