Thomas Cook donates £1.5 million compensation payout to charity after deaths of two young children

Christi and Bobby Shepherd
Christi and Bobby Shepherd
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Thomas Cook today said it had donated to charity a £1.5 million compensation payout it received over the deaths of two young children on holiday in Corfu.

The holiday firm, which has its head office in Peterborough, received the sum after the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, from Horbury, near Wakefield, who died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek holiday island in 2006 when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler.

Thomas Cook group chief executive officer Peter Fankhauser said: “Thomas Cook has not in any way profited from our claim against the hotel owner.

“In late 2012, we brought a claim against the hotelier for breaching their contract to provide safe accommodation to our customers and to comply with all applicable laws which was decided in our favour.

“Today I have made arrangements for the full amount - £1.5 million - to be donated in full to Unicef, the world’s leading children’s organisation.

“I believe this is the right thing to do and I apologise to the family for all they have gone through.”

The move by Thomas Cook follows criticism of the firm from the parents of Bobby and Christi over the weekend.

Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood accused the travel giant of not apologising over the deaths following the end of inquests last week.

Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said it was “disgraceful” an apparent letter of apology from Mr Fankhauser was only brought to their attention by journalists.

On Wednesday a jury at the inquest concluded that the firm had “breached their duty of care” to the family.

The jury also outlined a series of other shortcomings by the tour company.

Today (Monday, May 18) Thomas Cook confirmed that it has received a total of £1.5 million in connection with a legal settlement with the hotel owners, Louis Group.

It said that the settlement was in respect of a case brought by Thomas Cook against Louis Group in October 2012 relating to the tragedy.

The total award was £3 million but half of this had to go Thomas Cook’s insurers.

The company said the bulk of the figure it received related to its legal fees.

Yesterday, in a statement, Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said: “It is disgraceful that after all we’ve been through Thomas Cook are still putting us last in the equation.

“We haven’t had this ‘so called’ letter of apology. We have been shown it by the press and feel it is an appalling continuation of Thomas Cook’s PR exercise.

“It’s not an apology for their wrong doing but a general offer of sympathy.

“It does not address the central issue that their safety management system failed and it does not apologise for that. Our compensation was accepted before the inquest in which Thomas Cook were found to have breached their duty of care.”

Mrs Wood told The Mail On Sunday yesterday: “It seems our children’s lives are worth only a fraction of Thomas Cook’s reputation.”

She said her frustration is not about money, but the family is “incensed” that the travel firm sought to claim back costs after a 2010 criminal trial in Greece during which three employees from the Louis Corcyra Beach hotel were found guilty of manslaughter.

She said the firm should have apologised at the inquest.

The coroner said he would deliver recommendations later this year to relevant organisations which he hoped would influence British and European law and practices in the holiday industry.