Thomas Cook admits failings in Corfu poisoning deaths

The parents of two children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday in Corfu have welcomed a report criticising Thomas Cook’s treatment of the family following the deaths.

Christi and Bobby Shepherd died while on holiday in 2006. Picture: Contributed
Christi and Bobby Shepherd died while on holiday in 2006. Picture: Contributed

Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler during a holiday with their father and stepmother in October 2006.

The children’s parents, Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd, said the report into Thomas Cook’s customer, health, safety, welfare and crisis management was “a move in the right direction and the next step in what has been a long, hard fight for justice”.

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An inquest earlier this year ruled Bobby and Christi, from Yorkshire, had been unlawfully killed and that Thomas Cook had “breached their duty of care”.

The independent review, carried out by former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, criticised the travel firm’s relationship with the family in the nine years since the children’s deaths and said parts of the business were putting financial priorities ahead of customers’ needs.

It said: “Individual profit centres such as the ‘airline’ and ‘destination management’ [divisions] have a tendency to protect cost rather than maximise the customer experience.”

Mr King made 49 recommendations about health and safety, carbon monoxide, quality assurance and contracting, destination management, customer service and relations and incident management.

Thomas Cook, which described the review as “uncomfortable reading”, said it accepted the findings and had already taken action on a number of recommendations.

Mrs Wood and Mr Shepherd said they welcomed Thomas Cook’s “new proactive approach in addressing the mistakes they made that led to the deaths of Christi and Bobby”.

They said: “Our hope is that we can bring about change that will dramatically reduce the number of deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide, both in the UK and abroad.

“We feel optimistic for the future but continue to call for all tour operators to put the health and well-being of their customers at the heart of their industry.”