A newspaper has revealed how bosses at the world’s biggest asbestos factory spied on and tried to smear people who exposed the dangers of the killer dust.

Secret industry documents seen by The Independent reveal that the executives at Rochdale-based asbestos giant Turner and Newall monitored people they considered to be “subversive” and kept a dossier on their activities at the height of the debate about the mineral’s safety in the 1980s.

They also enlisted the help of disgraced Rochdale MP Cyril Smith in a clandestine, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid to discredit the makers of an award-winning documentary that told how asbestos workers were dying from cancer.

The story can be read in full on The Independent’s website.