Corfu trial could ‘send shockwaves’ through travel industry


The Federation of Tour Operators has warned that a trial in Greece could create health and safety checks that are impractical for its members to meet.

Director-general Andy Cooper’s remarks followed news that two former or existing Thomas Cook employees will stand trial in Corfu in connection with the deaths of two children.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and brother Robert, six, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in October 2006, believed to be as a result of a faulty gas boiler in a holiday apartment at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.

This week the Greek Judicial Council announced charges would be brought against the Thomas Cook staff as well as hotel managers and maintenance contractors. This goes against the district attorney’s recommendation in December 2007 not to prosecute the tour operator’s employees.

Cooper said that, if convicted, the case could have a huge impact on the package market. He said: “It goes as far as throwing into question the package holiday.

“If they are saying the responsibility for ensuring health and safety for hotels passes from local authorities to tour operators, that cannot be right as a matter of principle. It would send shock waves through the industry.”

Currently, operator staff in resort are not required to have technical expertise, but must check that standards have already been put in place by local authorities.

Thomas Cook said it was “shocked and deeply concerned” by the council’s decision.

Thomas Cook holidays division executive director Ian Derbyshire said: “We had a signed contract from Louis Group stating there was no gas in that property.

“We are a member of the FTO and completed an audit to FTO requirements based on the Greek government’s certificate of the hotel. We fully support our staff and are convinced they will be fully vindicated in the next few months.”