Friday 27 April 2018

Parents of children who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while in Corfu hit out at Thomas Cook

Christi and Bobby Shepherd Photo credit: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire
Christi and Bobby Shepherd Photo credit: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire

The parents of two children who were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu have hit out at travel firm Thomas Cook, who they accused of not apologising over the deaths following the inquest this week.

Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood said it was "disgraceful" an apparent letter of apology from Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser was only brought to their attention by journalists.

Bobby and Christi Shepherd, from Horbury, near Wakefield, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek holiday island in 2013 when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler.

On Wednesday a jury at the inquest gave a conclusion of unlawful killing and said Thomas Cook had "breached their duty of care".

The foreman also read out a series of conclusions which included how Thomas Cook had been misled by the hotel about its gas supply, but also how the holiday giant's health and safety audit of the complex was inadequate.

It has since emerged Thomas Cook received a compensation payout - reportedly in the region of £3.5 million - after the deaths. The grieving family said they received around one tenth of that sum in compensation.

In a statement reported today, the youngsters' family said: "It is disgraceful that after all we've been through Thomas Cook are still putting us last in the equation.

"We haven't had this 'so called' letter of apology. We have been shown it by the press and feel it is an appalling continuation of Thomas Cook's PR exercise. It's not an apology for their wrong doing but a general offer of sympathy.

"It does not address the central issue that their safety management system failed and it does not apologise for that. Our compensation was accepted before the inquest in which Thomas Cook were found to have breached their duty of care."

A Thomas Cook spokesman said Mr Fankhauser sent a letter of apology to the family on Friday, but refused to go into details about the correspondence.

The children's mother Sharon Wood told the Mail on Sunday: "It seems our children's lives are worth only a fraction of Thomas Cook's reputation."

She said her frustration is not about money, but the family is "incensed" that the travel firm sought to claim back costs after a 2010 criminal trial in Greece during which three employees from the Louis Corcyra Beach hotel were found guilty of manslaughter.

She said the firm should have apologised at the inquest.

The coroner said he would deliver recommendations later this year to relevant organisations which he hoped would influence British and European law and practices in the holiday industry.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, who was with the family during the inquest this week, said they were upset as the correspondence from Thomas Cook stopped short of apologising.

She said: "It does not address the central issue that their safety management procedures and policies failed, and for that they have not apologised.

"That is what the inquest in Wakefield found this week, and they have singularly failed to apologise for that."

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