Thomas Cook said it wants hoteliers’ help and support to fight fake sickness claims after Spanish lawyers accused UK tour operators of racking up legal costs and passing them on.

Travel Weekly reported the concerns in Spain last week, quoting Madrid-based lawyer Marie Rogers who said: “When tour operators fight, the hotels have to pick up the costs.”

Thomas Cook senior legal counsel Rebecca White confirmed the group is “forensically” reviewing sickness claims to combat “a dramatic spike”, saying: “If we think a claim is fraudulent we won’t pay it.”

However, a Thomas Cook spokesman insisted: “Our relationship with hoteliers is important. [Fighting fake claims] requires evidence, support and intelligence from hoteliers. It can be the difference between going to court and not, and the difference between winning and losing.

“Most hoteliers we work with see the big picture – that by challenging claims in court we’ve dramatically reduced the number of new claims.”

He added: “The majority of cases we investigate are either dropped by claimants or successfully defended in court, meaning it’s a win-win for us and the hoteliers. What is important is that more hoteliers support us in building evidence so we stand the best possible chance in court.”

Abta declined to comment on operators passing on the costs of defending claims. However, it hailed a minor success in the latest phase of its Stop Sickness Scams campaign. Senior solicitor Susan Deer said: “The government has now laid an amendment [to] the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill that will ban cold calling by claims management companies. We’ll work constructively with the government and regulator to ensure any ban is effective.”

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