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St Andrews University in lung disease mystery

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Prince William’s old university is at the centre of an asbestos probe.

Five former workers, including lecturers, at the University of St Andrews have contracted the deadly lung disease, mesothelioma.

Now lawyers acting for the five have launched an investigation into whether the uni was the source of the outbreak.

Sub-contractors who worked on the campus have also instructed legal firm Digby Brown to investigate.

Fraser Simpson, partner with the firm, said: “We have a number of clients in the St Andrews area, some of whom were former university employees. The cases remain the subject of ongoing investigation to identify the source of exposure. I would stress this does not necessarily imply a course of negligent conduct on the part of the University.”

“The cases remain the subject of ongoing investigations to identify the source of exposure.

“A new generation of victims has emerged as a result of the material’s use in buildings such as schools and universities.”

The investigation follows a pay-out to a contract worker’s family. It is believed he got mesothelioma after working with asbestos laggers during renovation and construction of the university’s former David Russell Hall. His claim was with his employers, not the uni, according to legal sources.

Victims support group, Asbestos Action Tayside, said they were offering help to former staff of the university and their families.

A spokesman for the group said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely serious illness and the quality of life of the patients is seriously challenging at times.

“The people we advise and support previously came from shipbuilding and construction but we are seeing growing numbers who worked in offices where asbestos was built into the fabric of the building.”

St Andrews is not the first education facility to be linked to mesothelioma. The family of former Aston University secretary, Valerie White, are suing the Birmingham uni after she died from mesothelioma. The same uni was fined £4,000 in 2010 after two workers were exposed to asbestos while fitting CCTV cameras.

St Andrews chiefs said they had yet to hear from lawyers for the five.

A spokeswoman said: “We are unaware of any claims being made against the university by Digby Brown on behalf of any claimant.”

St Andrews uni is Scotland’s oldest founded in 1410. It has educated a host of the country’s future leaders including Alex Salmond and former Scottish Secretary of State Michael Forsyth. Prince William went between 2001 and 2004, meeting future wife Kate there.

Asbestos was largely used as insulation in buildings in the UK from the 1960s to 1999.

Do you or someone you know suffer from mesothelioma or asbestos-related pleural plaques after working at a school or uni? Contact 01415672776 or email jboyle@sundaypost.com