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Daily Record
Daily Record
John Ferguson

Workmen 'exposed to asbestos' on sites by SNP-linked housebuilder demand probe re-opened

Workmen who believe they were exposed to deadly asbestos on sites run by a housebuilder with links to the SNP have demanded investigations into the company are reopened. Springfield Properties paid a £10,000 fine after breaking safety laws at a building site in Milton of Campsie, East Dunbartonshire.

But subcontractors who worked there have claimed they passed evidence to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) outlining claims about several other sites which have been ignored. Martin McGowan Sr, whose firm had over 20 men working on Springfield sites, has written to HSE and SEPA demanding action.

He states: “I would like HSE to open a case against Springfield Properties about sending employees into dangerous asbestos buildings to demolish without telling them of the dangers and transporting dangerous contaminated waste mixed with asbestos to other sites.

“We have all evidence to prove our statement. As HSE and SEPA already have these statements, why did they not pursue prosecution on these sites?

“We know they got a prosecution on one site at Milton of Campsie but why didn’t they prosecute the other three sites – Gartcosh, West Linton and Motherwell – which had more evidence than Milton of Campsie? We would like these sites to be re-examined please.”

Springfield was fined for breaching safety rules at Milton of Campsie (Daily Record)

McGowan claims 21 workers were exposed for over 716 days. Documents seen by the Sunday Mail show McGowan was threatened with legal action if he made public allegations that asbestos was transported and buried at other sites where housing estates now stand. He claims to have been contacted several times by lawyers for Springfield since we revealed details of his allegations.

Springfield Properties, based in Elgin, Moray, builds about 1,000 properties a year. It gave £100,000 to the SNP between 2015 and 2016 and there have been allegations of cronyism following a string of unrecorded meetings between the firm’s executives and senior Holyrood ministers.

McGowan’s son, also Martin, believes he is among hundreds of workers who could have been exposed to potentially deadly dust in 2013 and has written to Springfield to tell them he and others are taking legal advice. The dad of two, 32, wants to sue Springfield after going home to a newborn son after working on the firm’s sites about a decade ago.

He said: “It has been a nightmare. I felt I had to consult my doctor and, while my health is fine now, I don’t know what will happen in the future.” He has detailed sites in Uddingston and Motherwell in Lanarkshire and West Linton in Peeblesshire at which he believes asbestos was mishandled.

Labourer Martin McGowan with son Freddy (top) and Mason (supplied)

HSE said: “We carried out an investigation into the exposure of workers to asbestos-containing dust. This led to Springfield Properties PLC being fined £10,000. Allegations about transportation and dumping of asbestos waste falls under the jurisdiction of SEPA, not HSE.”

A spokeswoman for Springfield Properties said: “We have absolute confidence in the investigations the Health & Safety Executive carried out and concluded almost 10 years ago. We will fully cooperate with the HSE and any other relevant authority if required.

“The case at Milton of Campsie was fully resolved. Any suggestion that impropriety has taken place on other sites is dangerous and misguided and we will robustly defend ourselves against any false allegations. We can confirm we have been approached by an individual offering information for money. We have not seen that information and have repeatedly directed this person to go through the proper channels as appropriate.”

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