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Thomas Cook remove guests from Egypt hotel after death of Lancashire Couple

View profile for Gemma Vine
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Thomas Cook have been offering their customers alternative hotels within the resort of Hurghada from today, as well as giving them the option to return home after the death of John and Susan Cooper. At the moment their deaths are still being investigated but it is reported that they are already looking into whether or not any health and safety issues, such as ventilation issues or food poisoning could have contributed to their deaths. In a statement, Thomas Cook, have said that they are moving the other customers from the hotel as a precautionary measure.

In 2006 Christi and Bobby Shepherd, aged seven and six, died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning whilst on a family holiday in Corfu. The holiday was booked with Thomas Cook. A police investigation was conducted both here in England and in Greece. It was discovered that the gas water heater, which was housed within an enclosure adjoining bungalow 112, had been improperly installed and poorly maintained. There was evidence to suggest that a safety device had been bypassed in an effort to prevent the boiler automatically disengaging if it became faulty.

In Corfu criminal proceedings followed, with eleven people standing trial for offences connected to their deaths. Four people were convicted of manslaughter. The two employees of Thomas Cook were acquitted.

At no point did Thomas Cook accept responsibility for the deaths of Christi and Bobby and the families received no offers of assistance, no apology or even an expression that Thomas Cook were sorry for their loss.

In England the Coroner for West Yorkshire opened an Inquest into the children’s deaths and what followed was the family’s 8 ½ year battle against Thomas Cook to ensure that a full and fearless investigation would take place. In April 2015 after overcoming all the hurdles including arguments by Thomas Cook’s legal team that the inquest should not even proceed, that witnesses should not be called to give evidence due to concerns about self incrimination and witnesses who were living outside England and Wales refusing to participate in the process the Inquest finally took place and the Jury returned a conclusion of unlawful killing identifying a number of factors which contributed to the deaths including failings of Thomas Cook in relation to health and safety audits at that resort.

Despite the Jury’s findings when asked by the press at the conclusion of the Inquest Thomas Cook still refused to apologise for their role in the deaths. It was only after the pressure that was put on them by both the public and the media did this family eventually receive the apology and accountability that they had waited so long for.

So far the steps that the Tour Operator have taken in this case appear to be positive and we hope that the proactive steps that they are taking so far are continued and that the family of Mr and Mrs Cooper are provided with adequate support during what is and will be a very difficult time for them.

If following investigations abroad Mr and Mrs Cooper’s deaths appear to be unknown or that there is a concern that the deaths were sudden, violent or unnatural a Coroner can open an Inquest in England. The family will now have to await the findings of the investigations carried out by Thomas Cook and the authorities in Egypt.

Minton Morrill represented the family of Christi and Bobby and the inquest into their deaths in April 2015. If you  would like to speak with a member of the Minton Morrill Inquest Team regarding any of the above issues, please call on 0113 245 8549 or contact us by email at help@mintonmorrill.co.uk