Thomas Cook to pay £1.5m to Unicef after furore over deaths
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Thomas Cook will pay £1.5m to the children’s charity Unicef as it tries to draw a line under the deaths of two children in Corfu in 2006.
Peter Fankhauser, the travel company’s chief executive, denied accusations that the company had profited from the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven. The children died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler.
Neil Shepherd, the children’s father, and his wife Sharon Wood said their compensation was only a 10th of the sum Thomas Cook received from the Greek hotel where the poisoning occurred.
“What parent would not be heartbroken by a worldwide multi-billion-pound organisation making money from their children’s deaths?” they asked.
Thomas Cook’s struggle to overcome reputational damage from its handling of the incident on Monday wiped another 3.2 per cent from its share price, which closed at 156.1p. Thomas Cook reports its first-half financial results on Wednesday.
“Thomas Cook has not in any way profited from our claim against the hotel owner,” said Mr Fankhauser. “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.”
The company confirmed it had received £3m from Louis Hotels in compensation between 2013 and 2014.
Half of the money was returned to its insurance company, which underwrote Thomas Cook’s £6m legal bill for the incident on the understanding it would receive half of any compensation.
Thomas Cook will now give the remaining £1.5m to Unicef, it said. “I believe this is the right thing to do and I apologise to the family for all they have gone through,” Mr Fankhauser said.
Two Thomas Cook employees were put on trial in Greece for their role in the incident. But in 2010 Nicola Gibson and Richard Carson were found not guilty of manslaughter by negligence.
Four people, including the hotel’s manager and its maintenance team, were found guilty and sentenced to up to seven years in jail.
Last week, at an inquest in Wakefield, Yorkshire, a coroner returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Ms Wood said she would “always hold Thomas Cook responsible” for the deaths of the children, and added that the company had not offered the family either practical or financial support.
A statement from Thomas Cook said: “The Greek authorities launched a thorough criminal investigation in 2010 which found three of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel employees guilty of manslaughter; that investigation cleared Thomas Cook’s employees of any wrongdoing. The coroner had directed the jury that the only conclusion to reach was unlawful killing as legally it had to be consistent with the Greek verdicts.”