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Asbestos lawyer welcomes demolition of “dangerous” Marks & Spencer Oxford Street store

An asbestos lawyer who successfully settled a case for a woman who worked in the Marks & Spencer store in Oxford Street and was found to have been exposed to deadly asbestos there has welcomed plans to demolish the building.

Posted on 14 April 2022

It has been reported that a City Hall review has concluded that the flagship Oxford Street store can be demolished and replaced by a new 10-story building.

Former Marks and Spencer (M&S) worker Janice Allen brought a legal claim against M&S after she was diagnosed with fatal mesothelioma, a cancer related to asbestos, in 2013. She believed that she had been exposed to the asbestos while she worked in the M&S Oxford Street store and the M&S Uxbridge store between 1978 and 1987.

Mrs Allen instructed asbestos lawyer Harminder Bains to bring a legal case against the retail giant. During the investigation the legal team applied for a court order for Marks & Spencer to disclose documents including surveys of stores. As a result of the application, Marks & Spencer admitted negligently exposing Mrs Allen to asbestos.

A witness in the case, health and safety officer William Wallace, worked in the Oxford Street store in 1998 and told the High Court that M&S “could not have guaranteed the safety of anybody – the workers, the staff, the customers. You could not have given a 100 per cent guarantee that those people were safe”.

M&S fought the case up to the first day of trial on 25 June 2014 when they settled, paying Mrs Allen a substantial sum.

Harminder Bains, partner in the Leigh Day asbestos team, said:

“I welcome the plans to demolish the Marks & Spencer store in Oxford Street as I know from my work representing Janice Allen that it is a dangerous building that is riddled with deadly asbestos. However, the demolition must be under strict health and safety guidelines to prevent workers and members of the public from being exposed to the asbestos whilst it is being removed.”

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Harminder Bains
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Harminder Bains

Joint head of the asbestos and industrial diseases, internationally renowned for her role fighting for victims of asbestos

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