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Payout for family of officer killed by asbestos from IRA Brighton blast

By Mark Edwards

Compensation has been paid to the family of a police officer who died after being exposed to asbestos following the IRA's Brighton bombing.

Jonathan Woods, a Metropolitan Police officer, was one of the first on the scene after the 1984 attack and became known as its sixth victim.

He contracted mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer, and died last year.

Mr Woods' widow Sharon sued the Metropolitan and Sussex Police for compensation, saying emergency service staff were not warned of the risks of asbestos during the clean-up operation.

Mr Woods' family received an undisclosed payout in an out-of-court settlement, the Argus newspaper in Brighton reported.

The police officer issued a writ against both Sussex Police and the Met in August 2014, claiming he was not given adequate protection at the site of the blast.

Sussex Police accepted liability, but he passed away in 2015 before his case was finalised.

Sussex Police said: "The claim involving the one deceased Metropolitan Police officer was settled in February this year.

"The claim amount was split between Sussex Police and the Met Police. We will not be going into the details of the amount of the settlement."

The IRA carried out the attack in October 1984 in a bid to kill Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet during the Conservative Party conference.

Lawyers for the Woods' family said the former bomb squad officer spent 14 days sifting through dust and rubble by hand.

The legal case is thought to be the first civil suit of its kind from a police officer working at the scene of a terror attack.

The Brighton Argus reported that lawyers said Mr Woods had been accompanied by 14 other officers from the Met and 15 Sussex officers who may have suffered the same exposure.

Sussex Police sent letters to 154 people but said they had received no further legal claims.

Solicitor Andrew James, representing Mr Woods' family, said: "When the bomb blew up, it collapsed the building into the basement.

"Jonathan Woods and 15 Met and 15 Sussex Police officers picked through the dust in the basement, which it turns out was contaminated with blue asbestos, but weren't protected.

"In 1984 they would definitely have known the risks of asbestos. There had been a big publicity campaign a couple of years before. It can be 60 years before the effects start to show themselves, but once you are exposed you are always at risk."

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