Former Yorkshire MP who died of 'industrial disease' claimed Houses of Parliament were 'riddled with asbestos'

An ex-Labour MP died from an industrial disease after claiming she was exposed to asbestos in the Houses of Parliament, an inquest heard.

Former Yorkshire MP Alice Mahon, who served for almost two decades, died aged 85 after suffering from a tissue cancer linked to asbestos called malignant mesothelioma. Her inquest at Bradford Coroners' Court heard how she worked at Northowram Hospital, in Calderdale, as an auxiliary nurse, before becoming an MP.

And coroner Angela Brocklehurst said Mrs Mahon believed she was exposed to asbestosis in both places, but was 'particularly concerned' about it in parliament. The inquest heard the former MP for Halifax had previously said the Houses of Parliament were "riddled with asbestos".

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The coroner said: "Mrs Mahon came by her death as a result of an industrial disease. She also referred to the Houses of Parliament being riddled with asbestos and believes she was exposed to that material while working there."

Alice Mahon, ex Labour MP for HalifaxAlice Mahon, ex Labour MP for Halifax
Alice Mahon, ex Labour MP for Halifax

Mrs Mahon, who grew up in Bradford, delved into the retail and hospitality world at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s, running several shops and pubs.

She then went on to work as an auxiliary nurse at her local hospital before serving as an MP between 1987 and 2005 But the inquest heard Mrs Mahon thought that she was exposed to asbestos - which can cause mesothelioma - both at Northowram Hospital and in parliament.

She made a claim for compensation in relation to exposure to asbestos while she was alive, the court heard. Mrs Mahon explained in the document that during her time at Northowram Hospital, which began in 1959, she would work inside the main building and Nissen huts.

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The court heard the latter were made from corrugated asbestos sheets and maintenance workers would cut and drill into them while staff were working, to move and relocate them. This would create dust that they cleaned with an ordinary sweeping brush. The court heard that in Mrs Mahon's later years, not only did age begin to take its course but she also began to develop breathing problems.

The coroner accepted the medical cause of death provided by Mrs Mahon's GP.

This included: malignant mesothelioma (a cancer of the thin tissue that lines the lung, chest wall, and abdomen), essential hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure that's not the result of a medical condition) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).

Mrs Mahon had a humanist funeral on March 6 this year at Parkwood Crematorium, in Park Road, Elland. Afterwards, the Vicar of Halifax offered to host a memorial at Halifax Minster, to provide a place for members of the community to pay their respects.

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This was attended by a number of high-profile figures, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and current Labour MP for Halifax Holly Lynch, the court heard. Mrs Brocklehurst said "many attended" and that the memorial was based on Mrs Mahon's "campaign for peaceful solutions to our problems".