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Occupational and Environmental Diseases Association (William Ashton Tait) Archives

  • GB 249 OEDA
  • Collection
  • 1969-2009
  • early correspondence and papers relating to Nancy Tait’s fact-finding mission regarding asbestos
  • minutes of meetings of the SPAID/OEDA Trustees, annual reports, strategic plans
  • registers and other finding aids for the extensive OEDA case file series (OEDA CF); see link below
  • information resources on employers and insurers and other materials for supporting compensation claims
  • some case correspondence, medical appeals correspondence, correspondence with the medical appeal administration, and with the social security commissioner
  • documentation of the different types of information services provided by SPAID / OEDA, among them series relating to occupational and environmental health enquiries; SPAID / OEDA publications and display boards; responses to requests for information from solicitors; and responses to requests for information from the media
  • records relating to SPAID/OEDA's research into asbestos related diseases, mortality statistics, latency periods; also testimony before commissions, consultancy reports
  • SPAID/OEDA's extensive advocacy work over four decades
  • interactions with victims support groups, unions, fellow activists, occupational health experts, historians, solicitors and legal scholars
  • conferences and meetings to which Nancy Tait and her organisation contributed or which she attended
  • information files compiled on specific topics
  • series of correspondence and telephone memoranda
  • SPAID/OEDA accounts; also fundraising activities including grant applications
  • some documentation of the creation and running of the Electron Microscope Research Unit
  • instructions and manuals relating to office procedures and information management in the organisation
  • reference library (OEDA/K) including the organisation's collection of scientific papers, deposits and judgements, statutory instruments, DSS claims forms 1969-2007, clusters of press coverage, etc

Further,

  • OEDA collection of printed material; see link below
  • ten series of case files (OEDA CF, see link below)
  • OEDA's copies of the Chase Manhattan Turner & Newall papers (OEDA CM, see link below)
  • several standalone collections accepted to the OEDA archive during the 1990s, including the research papers of M J Sanders, records of Cancer Prevention Society, Glasgow, and the papers documenting refrigeration management worker W H Knight's compensation claim; see links below

Occupational and Environmental Diseases Association

Laurie Flynn papers on the asbestos industry

  • GB 249 FLYNN
  • Collection
  • 1893 - 2005

Laurie Flynn's papers on the asbestos industry span the period 1893-2005 and contain information primarily on the occupational health hazards posed by asbestos. This interest is centred on the activities of Cape Asbestos Company Ltd (and all corresponding names including shell entities) as well as the company's overseas subsidiaries.

There are 4 main series:

  • mining in South Africa, 1938-2005
  • asbestos litigation in North America, 1934-2005
  • asbestos in the UK, 1953-2005
  • Cape Asbestos corporate papers, 1893-2000

The focus of the collection is on employer negligence concerning health and safety, as argued in compensation lawsuits brought against the company and its subsidiaries.

Access to the wealth of business and legal papers brought to light primarily through lawsuits led Flynn to question whether multinational enterprises are as progressive as some commentators (notably business historians) have made out. The depositions, affidavits and court exhibits contained in this collection illuminate the role played by corporations and their representatives (in particular company medics and corporate lawyers) in suppressing scientific evidence concerning the risks of asbestos exposure. The Flynn papers also illustrate the lengths to which Cape Asbestos’ legal advisers went to create complex and confusing company structures in order to distance the parent company from liability ("corporate veil").

The collection includes some of Flynn’s notebooks and other background research materials for journalistic projects (among them extensive interviews with South African miners and Glasgow laggers), scripts and transcripts for documentaries, press cuttings, scientific literature, and correspondence with health and safety experts, medical specialists, environmental consultants, tort lawyers and asbestos ban campaigners.

In addition to documenting Flynn’s sustained interest in the workings of multinational asbestos enterprise, the collection also includes a little material relating to gold and diamond mining and the medical impact of atomic testing.

Flynn, Vincent Laurie Macpherson, investigative journalist