Travel agent criticised for attitude to bereaved family

The parents of two children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday have welcomed a review criticising Thomas Cook’s treatment of the family following the deaths.

Travel agent criticised for attitude to bereaved family

Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged 6 and 7, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, Corfu, when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler during a holiday with their father and stepmother in October 2006.

Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd, the children’s parents, said the report into Thomas Cook’s customer, health, safety, welfare, and crisis management was “a move in the right direction and the next step in what has been a long, hard fight for justice”.

An inquest earlier this year found the children had been unlawfully killed and the tour operator “breached their duty of care”.

The independent review, carried out by former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, criticised the travel firm’s relationship with the family in the nine years since the children’s deaths and concluded that parts of the business were putting financial priorities ahead of customers’ needs.

It said: “Individual profit centres such as the ’airline’ and ’destination management’ [divisions] have a tendency to protect cost rather than maximise the customer experience.”

King made 49 recommendations about health and safety, carbon monoxide, quality assurance and contracting, destination management, customer service and relations, and incident management.

Thomas Cook, which described the review as “uncomfortable reading”, said it accepted the findings and had already taken action on a number of recommendations.

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