Exclusive By Geoff Fox THE head of a firm employed to gauge levels of potentially deadly asbestos on a former hospital site has a conviction for lying about his qualification.
John Bridle of J & S Bridle Associates was convicted in February after falsely claiming on letterheads he had a P402 qualification – described by the British Occupational Hygiene Society as 'a basic minimum for individuals carrying out asbestos surveys.'
At Barry magistrates' court, Mr Bridle, of Dinas Powys, Wales, was found guilty on two counts of breaching the Trade Descriptions Act, given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay 4,000 costs to Vale of Glamorgan Council.
But that has not prevented Hewlett Civil Engineering, who are working on the Shepherd Homes development at the former Killingbeck Hospital site, paying Mr Bridle thousands to quantify and assess asbestos levels after the cancer-causing substance was dug up.
Coun Les Carter, Leeds City Council executive member for neighbourhoods and housing, said: "I have asked our officers to look into the matter and ensure we are satisfied that the quality of the work being produced is of a standard that will ensure public safety."
A Shepherd Homes spokesperson said: "We have asked our appointed civil engineering contractor Hewlett Civil Engineering to investigate this matter.
"We are in constant communication over this current situation, and will be discussing it further once all the facts relating to the appointment of J & S Bridle have been gathered.
"We would like to make it clear Shepherd Homes would never knowingly employ any individual or company that might either create a risk to the public or stop us from fulfilling our obligations whilst on site."
A Hewlett spokesman said: "Mr J S Bridle of J & S Bridle Associates was brought to our attention through Asbestos Watchdog UK as their Chief Inspector, an organisation supported by the Health and Safety Executive.
"Mr Bridle has been engaged to give advice on the safest methods of contaminant identification and removal.
"Investigations to date have revealed that a significant portion of the materials uncovered are in fact not asbestos."
Shepherd Homes has admitted it found Asbestolux, which contains dangerous brown asbestos, and say it will take weeks to clear.
In the meantime, work on a large section of the site has ground to a virtual standstill.
Mr Bridle claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy designed to raise public fears about asbestos and engender a compensation culture.
He also revealed Shepherds had initially been faced with a 250,000 bill for disposal of the asbestos.
Mr Bridle said:"My conviction is about my stupidity, not my dishonesty.
"The judge stated I was totally honest and had not attempted to deceive anyone."
He added: "Incredibly, in spite of all these facts, the judge conditionally discharged me with a zero fine.
"I am at present taking legal action against some of the parties involved."