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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Highgate memorial for mesothelioma victim McLaren

A commemorative headstone for the Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren has been unveiled at Highgate Cemetery to mark the 3rd anniversary of his death.

Mr McLaren was diagnosed in October 2009 with pleural mesothelioma, anasbestos-related cancer which attacks the lining of the lungs.

It is believed Mr McLaren was exposed to asbestos during his 1970s refurbishment of Sex, the King's Road punk design shop he shared with Vivienne Westwood.

"When Malcolm created Sex he broke open the ceiling to make it look like a bomb had hit it," Mr McLaren's widow, Young Kim, said after the impresario's death. "I always suspected that shop because it was the only place Malcolm ever really spent any serious length of time in, and there was a lot of construction and changing things."

Ms Kim added that Ms Westwood had reportedly mentioned seeing asbestos on the premises. "It was board asbestos and it was in the early 70s so there was a lot of it left, and I don't think anyone really did anything about it."

Ms Kim also talked of her husband's anger that for 2 years before his death doctors in Britain continued to ignore signs of asbestos-related lung damage. A routine chest scan in 2008 revealed what physicians at the time described as "benign" spots on Mr McLaren's lungs. Although by January 2009 the impresario had become certain he was suffering from lung cancer, his doctor was adamant there was no problem.

However, within a few months Mr McLaren's left lung had become filled with fluid and he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He died in April 2010.

The impresario's black granite headstone was installed this week at his grave in the eastern section of Highgate Cemetery, close to where Karl Marx is interred. Mr McLaren's memorial features a bronze death-mask designed by the highly-regarded sculptor Nick Reynolds, son of the train robber Bruce Reynolds.

The grave also includes a device bearing Mr McLaren's initials and the epitaph: "Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success".

After Mr McLaren's death Ms Kim considered making a formal complaint against her husband's doctor. "His attitude was really inexcusable," Ms Kim said. "I think if you're doing a routine scan for other reasons and you notice it, you should pick up on it instead of ignore it."

Emma Costin, Head of Industrial Disease at Simpson Millar comments: "Although asbestos in most of its forms has been banned in the UK for many years, the incidence of mesothelioma remains on an steady upward trajectory, partly due to the long latency period of the disease. Yet still mesothelioma is relatively unknown and there is widespread ignorance and complacency about the dangers of  asbestos which remains hidden in large quantities in the fabric of many of our domestic and public buildings, particularly schools, which is perhaps most scandalous of all. Any death from this dreadful disease is a tragedy, as those of us who represent victims of asbestos and their families are all too well aware."
Location: United Kingdom


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