Corfu deaths mother calls on Thomas Cook to push for improved safety

Corfu deaths mother calls on Thomas Cook to push for improved safety

The mother of two children killed on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006 has called on the tour operator to pave the way for new rules on safety in Europe.

Sharon Wood gave her first interview since an inquest into the deaths of Christianne and Bobby, Shepherd, aged six and seven, found Cook had breached its duty of care.

Saying Cook’s recent attempts to apologise and make amends for the double tragedy were too little too late, Wood said the firm showed a “lack of human decency”.

She accused the company of contributing to the impact of the deaths and “fighting them all the way”.

“I would like to think that in the light of what’s happened in reflection that Thomas Cook would look hard at their social responsibility to their customers and try to identify with their customers.

“I would also like Thomas Cook to push through EU legislation so that safety is paramount within the travel industry.”

Wood’s MP Mary Creagh is expected to call on Parliament to push for rules so that carbon monoxide detectors are installed in all hotel rooms.

Wood told ITV’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show this morning that the family received no help from Cook from the start when she flew out to Corfu to see her children.

She said she had to visit the hotel to pick up clothes because they were dressed in someone else’s and sneaked back with a disposable camera to take pictures of the boiler that leaked deadly fumes.

These pictures later became key evidence in the criminal investigations and, eventually, the inquest that was heard at Wakefield Coroner’s Court last month, she claimed.
Wood said she suspected a “cover up” when she visited the scene of the deaths.

Asked about the recent face-to-face apology from current chief executive Peter Fankhauser, Wood said the meeting was “intense”.

But she said he asked her to trust him just a week after saying in court that Cook had nothing to apologise for.

She added: “They [Thomas Cook] fought us at every step until those 11 jurors said that they breached their duty of care and suddenly it was like someone flicked a switch and they were on our side.”

Wood said the discovery that two former employees of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Corfu were still working for hotels contracted by Cook, including the electrician who was found to be still employed by the same hotel, undermined its claims that it had made changes.

“For a business such as that [Thomas Cook] that is synonymous with family-friendly holidays it is not just what the holiday costs,” said Wood.

“A holiday is worth much more to a family than the financial cost. They have the expertise to help you and for them to abandon us is just unacceptable.”

Wood was asked about the decision by Fankhauser’s predecessor Harriett Green to forgo £3 million of a £10.5 million share bonus to give it to charity following media criticism.

She denied claims that Green had “reached out” to the family. “I’m not sure who she has reached out to but it’s certainly not our family,” she said. “However she feels about accepting that money is her decision, to involve me in that and suggest I have had any say in that is not fair.”

Wood vowed to continue her fight for justice and dignity for her children and said she now had a voice to fight for better safety standards.


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