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BBC Releases a Statement Following Recently Reported Death of Two Former Symphony Orchestra Members

It was recently reported in the press that two former members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra died from mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer) after working at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios.

Published: 18 August 2021 | 4:22 PM
Blurred photograph of an empty orchestral set-up on a stage, we can see empty seats, music stands and an unmanned double bass.
Edwin Dodd and Christopher Larkin were both highly valued and respected members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The MU is saddened by the passing of the two members, and we send best wishes to their families. We are liaising with the BBC to ensure the utmost health and safety of their current orchestra members.

The BBC have issued the following statement to the MU to share with members. They also want to encourage anyone who has any personal concerns to flag those up to the BBC via their manager / the person they liaise with at the BBC.

If you wish to remain anonymous you can do this via your MU Regional Office. Unfortunately there is currently no reliable screening test for mesothelioma.

The BBC’s Statement

It was recently reported in the press that two former members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra died from mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer) after working at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios.

Edwin Dodd and Christopher Larkin were both highly valued and respected members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and our thoughts continue to be with their families at this difficult time.

We understand that the media coverage would have been unsettling for colleagues to see.

The BBC has always made the health and safety of its staff and visitors an absolute priority and would never knowingly put people at risk. Asbestos, in its various forms, is often present in older buildings as it used to be widely used in building products. Asbestos containing materials are not potentially harmful unless disturbed or damaged and their presence in a building is not harmful in itself.

BBC Workplace have, for many years, engaged a specialist team to help them manage asbestos in accordance with all regulations and statutory requirements.

The Observer article stated that the BBC had admitted liability. Unlike with other types of injury claim, in Mesothelioma cases the burden of proof rests with the defendant and not the claimant and this means that unless the organisation who a claim is being made against can present evidence to the court to address all of the allegations made, the court will award compensation. That ability to present evidence can be very challenging where it is not unusual with this type of case for the period involved to stretch back several decades. In the specific case brought by Christopher Larkin’s family, we decided – in conjunction with our insurers and legal advisers – that in this particular matter there was insufficient evidence available to satisfy that burden and defend the claim. However, it is important to remember that any claim has to be considered on its individual evidential merits.

Unfortunately, due to ongoing litigation, we are limited in what we can say at this time. Of course, if anyone has personal concerns we would be happy to discuss those.

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