A WIDOW of a master at a leading prep school has launched a legal battle for £200,000 compensation after her husband died from an asbestos related cancer.

David Kitchin, aged 60, died from malignant mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at Farleigh School near Andover, it is claimed.

Now his widow, Rosemary Kitchin, is claiming damages from the governors of the Roman Catholic School, where boarding fees are £6,265 a term.

Old boys from the school include Lord Stafford, The Marquess of Bute, the satirist Craig Brown, actor Rupert Everett, rugby international Hugh Vyvyan, BBC presenter Hugh Corder, and climber and explorer Tarka l’Herpiniere.

The 400-pupil school is set in 600 acres of parkland and has a magnificent arboretum planted in the troop formation of the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709.

Mr Kitchin worked at the school between 1966 and 1969, and 1974 and 1986, when he was exposed to deadly asbestos dust and fibres in the Stone Passageway, the route into the main school – according to a High Court writ.

Overhead central heating and hot water pipes lagged with blue asbestos ran in the passageway, and the lagging was friable, making the atmosphere contaminated with asbestos, the writ says. It is claimed that pupils also disturbed the lagging by jumping up to swing on the pipes.

Mr Kitchin used the passageway until it was made out of bounds because of the asbestos, the court will hear. He also visited the boiler house, which contained asbestos lagged pipes, from time to time.

He developed pain in his abdomen in January 2008, and tests showed he had malignant mesothelioma of his peritoneal cavity. He underwent five cycles of chemotherapy, with minimal response, and spent time in hospital.

He needed increasing care and help from his wife as the disease tightened its grip, and suffered pain, shortness of breath, debility, and depression. He knew that his condition was fatal.

Without the disease he would have had an average life expectancy, reduced by only two years, because of his smoking history, the writ claims. He died on January 21 this year.

Mrs Kitchin, of Little Mount, Soames Lane, Alton, Hampshire, brands the school negligent and says it exposed him to a major risk of fatal injury without any protection, and without warning him of the risks he ran.