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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 14:49 GMT
Woman claims hugs caused cancer
Debbie Brewer
Debbie Brewer's father worked as an asbestos lagger
A Devon woman who says she developed an asbestos-related cancer from hugging her father is claiming a 75,000 payout from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Debbie Brewer has been diagnosed with mesolthelioma and believes she was exposed to it by her father, who died from lung cancer last year.

Her father was an asbestos lagger at the MoD's Devonport dockyard in 1966.

The MoD said if they were liable they would try to settle a claim quickly without the need for a court case.

Mrs Brewer was six years old when her father worked at Devonport dockyard in 1966 and would hug him when he returned home.

I have got three children and I expect to be there for them, and I don't know if I am going to be
Debbie Brewer

An inquest into her father's death in August 2006 found he had died from small cell lung cancer, which was linked to asbestos.

Mrs Brewer first started having breathing difficulties in 1994 but was not diagnosed with mesolthelioma until November last year. Her condition is terminal.

Cases of mesolthelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung, can lie dormant for 40 years before surfacing.

Mrs Brewer says the exposure as a child was the only time she would have been linked to asbestos.

Inquest evidence

Mrs Brewer, now 47, of Plymouth, is to make the compensation claim from the MoD through her solicitor, for general damages for pain and suffering.

She said she felt "a lot of anger" at developing the disease.

"Not towards my dad because he didn't know. None of this is his fault," she said.

"Anger that my future has been taken away, I have got three children and I expect to be there for them, and I don't know if I am going to be. That's very hard to deal with."

In December, a consultant oncologist gave evidence at an inquest into the death of Barry Welch, from Leicester, that it "would be reasonable" to assume mesothelioma could be caused by childhood asbestos exposure.

An MoD spokesman would not comment on the case but said: "Once a claim has been made we have a very good record in paying compensation quickly where we have a liability. "

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