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Unlicensed asbestos contractor given suspended jail term

A Bromley man has been prosecuted after removing asbestos without a licence and doctoring a report that told owners of a home in Camden he had safely cleared the site.

Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday that Mr Peter Horrey, director of Bromley firm Absolute Asbestos, was unlicensed to remove asbestos, and failed to properly clean and decontaminate the boiler room of the home in Greencroft Gardens.

Visible fibres remained which were a hazard to householders and to plumbers due to start work in the room.

An analyst then took an air test, and gave Mr Horrey a certificate showing the site had failed. M. Horrey then doctored a report to the owners, telling them it was safe to enter, which they subsequently did.

Mr Horrey had previously pleaded guilty to three breaches of the asbestos regulations, and was given six months’ prison sentence on each charge, to run concurrently and suspended for two years.

He will also serve 300 hours’ unpaid community services, will pay £11,340 to the Residents’ Association, and will pay £10,160 in costs.

He will also be given an electronic curfew between 9pm and 6am for three months.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the case, and inspector Dominic Elliss said he was appalled by the reckless disregard for safety.

He said Mr Horrey “operated outside the safeguards provided by a licensing regime, failed to clean and decontaminate the work area, and then lied to the residents of the property by providing an altered air safety test done by an analyst.”

“He clearly set out to deceive these householders but, worse than that, he was apparently content to put them and the plumbers who had been booked shortly afterwards at risk.”

“Asbestos is not an historical threat,” he added. “It is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the dangers are well-known in the construction and property industries. That is why there is a well-established licensing system with companies who are fully trained and experienced in dealing properly with asbestos of all types.”

Around 4,000 people die each year in the UK as a result of breathing asbestos fibres.