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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 12:50 GMT
MoD admits 'cancer hug' liability
Debbie Brewer
Debbie Brewer's doctor said she may have only nine months to live
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to compensate a Plymouth woman who said she developed an asbestos-related cancer from hugging her father.

Debbie Brewer, who has been diagnosed with mesolthelioma, stands to receive a six-figure damages payment.

The MoD said it had admitted liability and would agree a suitable settlement.

Mrs Brewer believes she was exposed to the asbestos by her father when he was a lagger at Devonport Dockyard in 1966. He died from lung cancer last August.

No price can be put on what I'm going to lose
Debbie Brewer

She was diagnosed with cancer of the lining of the lung, which is caused by asbestos exposure, last November.

There is no cure and a doctor has said she may have only nine months to live. Cases can lie dormant for 40 years before surfacing.

The MoD told Mrs Brewer's solicitor it was prepared to admit liability, provided details of her medical condition and previous work history did not bring to light any other possible sources of asbestos exposure.

Mrs Brewer said contact with her father was the only explanation for her condition.

Her father, Philip Northmore, died aged 68 of asbestos-related lung cancer.

Philip Northmore
Philip Northmore worked as an asbestos lagger
She used to hug and spend time with him when he came home from work from the dockyard between 1961 and 1965, when she was aged between two and seven.

The MoD owned the dockyard when her father worked there.

Mrs Brewer, 47, said she was very pleased the MoD had admitted liability as the money would help her enjoy the time she had left with her children and also provide for them after her death.

She has a 20-year-old daughter, Siobhan, and sons Richard, aged 17, and Kieran, 10, who is autistic.

Her claim was "not about the money", she said, but "means a lot for my children's future".

"This is about the issue and it's also about what I'm going to lose and no price can be put on what I'm going to lose," Mrs Brewer added.

In a statement, the MoD said it "has admitted liability for the asbestos-related mesothelioma suffered by Deborah Brewer and is now endeavouring to agree as swiftly as possible a suitable settlement".

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