Harriet Green faces backlash over Thomas Cook payoff

Harriet Green faces backlash over Thomas Cook payoff

Former Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green is now in the line of fire over the company’s failure to deal properly with the parents of children Christi and Bobby Shepherd who died on a Cook holiday in Corfu.

Green stands to collect a near £11 million bonus next month and the Mail on Sunday splashed the news on its front page at the weekend, calling Green’s handling of the aftermath of the children’s deaths “shameful”.

The newspaper reported: “Green was in charge while Thomas Cook tried to have the inquest into the children’s deaths scrapped.”

It quoted mother Sharon Wood saying: “Harriet Green has behaved shamefully towards us – she refused to meet us. She should hand this bonus back or pay it to children’s charities.”

The children died in 2006, poisoned by carbon monoxide from a badly installed boiler outside their bungalow at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Corfu.

An inquest this month attributed their deaths to “unlawful killing” and found Thomas Cook had breached its duty of care. Three staff at the hotel were convicted of the children’s manslaughter by a Greek court in 2010.

Green took over as Thomas Cook group chief executive in July 2012, almost six years after the children’s deaths. She stood down in late November 2014.

Thomas Cook confirmed Green is due to receive more than seven million shares in the company, worth more than £10.5 million, next month.

MP Mary Creagh, who has campaigned on the family’s behalf, said: “It is outrageous that someone who presided over the company when it behaved so badly to the parents is getting any payoff, let alone one on this extraordinary scale.

“If Thomas Cook want to begin to restore their shattered public trust, they should cancel this bonus and use the money to install carbon monoxide monitors in every hotel to ensure no other family suffers a similar tragedy.”

A spokeswoman for Green told the newspaper the former Thomas Cook boss “has enormous sympathy for the family”.

She said: “She [Green] has watched the events of recent weeks with some distress and remains devastated for Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood’s loss.”

But the spokeswoman said the payoff was “based on her [Green’s] ability to turn around a failing company”.

Green has been on gardening leave since November. Thomas Cook will stop paying her salary in June.

The Mail on Sunday also reported the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel had “gone back on its promise not to re-let the bungalow where the children died. Instead, it has simply changed the number of the room and allowed new families to stay there.”

The family asked Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser to push forward their request to demolish the bungalow last week.

The hotel owner confirmed the bungalow would be demolished. In a statement, Louis Hotels said: “Now all proceedings including the inquest are over, we have decided to demolish the bungalow.”

The hotel also confirmed that an electrician convicted over the children’s deaths, who was last week found still to be working at the hotel, had been sacked.


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