Thomas Cook is prepared to bring fresh fraud prosecutions against holidaymakers in the fight against fake illness claims.
The company won a landmark private prosecution for fraud in Liverpool Crown Court last October, when couple Deborah Briton and Paul Roberts were jailed after bringing a £20,000 claim for sickness on consecutive Cook holidays in Majorca in 2015 and 2016. The couple were charged with eight counts of fraud.
Thomas Cook senior legal counsel for litigation Rebecca White said: “The decision to prosecute wasn’t one we took lightly. But we thought we had to do something significant, that would have an impact and a deterrent effect. To do that you need to pick your case carefully.
“Roberts and Briton were repeat visitors to the hotel. They were known to staff. They brought claims for themselves and their children arising from two holidays. [Yet] there was social media evidence that they had had a wonderful holiday. The surprise was they didn’t admit their guilt at the first opportunity. That did them no favours.”
The prison sentences drew national media attention.
A second Thomas Cook case, in Liverpool County Court in July, also attracted media interest when the court found the claims of plaintiffs Julie Lavelle and Michael McIntyre to be “wholly implausible” and “fundamentally dishonest”.
The couple had claimed for sickness three years after a Cook holiday in Gran Canaria in 2013.
White told a Hill Dickinson travel law seminar: “Why would you wait three years? If you were ill, why wouldn’t you complain? The judge found it unconvincing they would have had a 14-month‑old child who was seriously ill and not have taken the child to see a doctor.”
White said: “The case gave the industry a lot of encouragement. If we have to prosecute again, we will.”
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