An inquest has heard how a 40-year-old man may have died after being exposed to asbestos in the wake of an IRA bomb attack.

Stuart Packard was deployed as part of the clean-up operation near Manchester’s Arndale Centre shopping complex following the attack in June 1996. He died last year, at the age of 40, from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos.

In a short documentary inquest held at Essex Coroner’s Court in Chelmsford on Monday, senior coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray heard Mr Packard was admitted to hospital in June 2015 with shortness of breath and weight loss. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died in October 2015.

Mr Packard worked as a security guard in the Arndale Centre, and after the IRA explosion in 1996 he was exposed to asbestos because of the building work going on around him. Buildings within a half-mile radius of the Manchester blast were destroyed, while the clean-up was made more complicated by the asbestos present in a number of damaged buildings.

Solicitors are now dealing with a potential civil claim for compensation after concerns were raised that Mr Packard may not have been given appropriate protective clothing.