|Prior to his death, Richard Westgate instructed lawyers to |
sue BA for health and safety breaches as he was convinced
his problems were related to being exposed to toxic chemicals.
by Alexander Robertson For Mailonline,
6 April 2017
- Richard Westgate said ill health was caused by toxic fumes filtering into cockpit
- The BA pilot grew 'angry and frustrated' by UK doctors who could not cure him
- Suffered severe headaches, sight problems and insomnia before he died in 2012
- His twin brother told Salisbury Coroner's Court that he felt 'let down' by doctors
- But coroner ruled so-called aerotoxic syndrome will not be considered at inquest
A British Airways pilot who claimed his ill health was caused by fumes filtering into the cockpit was let down by doctors who did not believe him, his brother has said.
Richard Westgate had a number of health issues but grew 'angry, frustrated and disillusioned' when British medical professionals were unable to cure him.
The 43-year-old, who 'lived for flying', then grounded himself from piloting planes when bosses refused to permanently sign him off.
He moved to the Netherlands where Dutch medical experts and scientists believed his claims, an inquest heard, and set about trying to cure him.
He had suffered years of poor health including severe headaches, mental confusion, sight problems and insomnia before he died in December 2012.
His twin brother Guy Westgate, 47 and also a BA pilot, told Salisbury Coroner's Court that his brother was working with researchers to see if his claims could be true.
Prior to his death, Richard Westgate instructed lawyers to sue BA for health and safety breaches as he was convinced his problems were related to being exposed to toxic chemicals on board the planes he flew.
His claims over what caused them centred around warm air being pumped into jets from engines to provide a comfortable environment and chemicals in engine oil can also enter cabins.
The air industry has argued there is no threat to passengers or crew.
The coroner today said he will not examine whether or not Mr Westgate was made unwell by toxic fumes he was allegedly exposed to in the course of flying BA's commercial planes.
Dr Simon Fox QC said the issue - known as aerotoxic syndrome - was not something the parties will address.
Opening the inquest, Dr Fox QC said he will not consider if, in the period leading up to his death, Mr Westgate was poisoned after 'suffering from an exposure to organophosphates in the course of his employment as a commercial pilot'.
He said: 'That is not a proper issue to be examined by this inquest.'
But Dr Fox QC will address other factors which may have caused Mr Westgate's death, including whether he intentionally took his own life by overdosing on pentobarbital - a group of drugs which helps slow the nervous system.
Another factor he will consider when determining how Mr Westgate died is whether his death was brought about by lymphocytic myocarditis - inflammation of the heart muscle.