The father of two children who died on a Thomas Cook holiday challenged the operator to justify its use of unqualified health and safety auditors, at the start of an inquest into the deaths.
A jury was sworn in on Monday to hear an inquiry at Wakefield Coroners’ Court, eight years after the deaths in Corfu of Bobby and Christianne Shepherd, aged six and seven, respectively.
On the second day, the children’s father Neil Shepherd and their mother Sharon Wood pointed the finger of blame at the tour operator.
Neil Shepherd said he had been shocked when the “health and safety executive” from Thomas Cook, rep Richard Carson, told a Greek criminal court he was not qualified.
Addressing coroner David Hinchliff, Shepherd said: “I would like you, sir, to ask the past and present CEOs of Thomas Cook why they carry out health and safety audits on hotels they send their customers to using unqualified health and safety auditors.
“I firmly believe my children would be here today if Thomas Cook had carried out an inspection of the boilers.”
Wood told the inquiry: “I want to look further up the chain of command. I want to know why those gas boilers were not identified and not serviced regularly.
“This is not just a difference of local standards abroad. This is gross negligence. My children paid the price.”
Earlier, two engineers condemned the boiler that leaked the deadly carbon monoxide as “bodged and botched”.
The inquiry was told the operator had been lied to about the existence of gas boilers at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.
Leslie Thomas QC, for the family, asked whether it was satisfactory that Cook accepted assurances from the hotel.
Engineer Harry Rogers, instructed by the family, said: “[Cook] has a duty of care.”
He suggested Cook could have asked how the water was heated if not by gas.
Cook confirmed the inquest would continue as planned.
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