Independent report published into the deaths of children on holiday in Corfu

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Today saw the publication of the independent review into the tragic deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged just six and seven when they died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, in Corfu, in October 2006. 

Justin King CBE, the former CEO of Sainsburys, undertook the report following a request by the CEO of Thomas Cook to look into the deaths of Robert and Christianne Shepherd, "the subsequent events and relations between the families and Thomas Cook".

The report, conducted nine years after the deaths of the children, has been interpreted by the media to suggest that the tour operator "allowed legal considerations to cloud the way it dealt with the human side of the tragedy."

Justin King was critical of a number of areas where the company had failed to implement satisfactory health and safety policies. He concluded with a number of recommendations for Thomas Cook to implement, including significantly increasing the internal resources allocated to health and safety and creating a confidential health and safety whistle-blowing line for employees and suppliers.

The report also looked at the issues surrounding the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations 1992 and the exact nature of a package holiday under the law. He noted in the report that "there is much confusion on the part of customers as to the exact nature of the holiday or package that they have booked and the terms and conditions that apply. Many disputes are founded in the detail of this."

He noted how the changing landscape of the travel industry meant consumers increasingly found that "the holiday they book may not come with the legal rights they might expect, nor the level of service they have come to expect from a full package tour."

BL Claims Solicitors represent many Clients who are sadly injured or taken ill while on holiday through no fault of their own, only to find out that they do not have access to the protection they anticipated at the time of the booking. Accordingly, we welcome the recommendation of the report that "the responsibility must lie with the company to ensure that at the time of booking customers are clear on this kind of detail."

Thomas Cook in its response noted that "Going forward we intend to report on our progress with both customer satisfaction and health and safety as a standard part of our full and half year results to reflect their importance to our business".

Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd, the parents of Christi and Bobby said the report showed "a move in the right direction and the next step in what has been a long, hard fight for justice."

The full report is available on the Thomas Cook website at the following link. (http://www.thomascookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/JUSTIN-KING-INDEPENDENT-REVIEW.pdf)

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