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Corfu gas death pair's parents' fury at Thomas Cook 'apology'

image copyrightPA
image captionChristianne and Robert Shepherd died while on holiday with their father in Corfu in 2006

The parents of two children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu have criticised Thomas Cook for not apologising to them directly.

A spokesman for the company said a letter of apology had been sent from chief executive Peter Fankhauser to Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood.

However, Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said they had only been shown the letter by reporters.

Christi and Bobby Shepherd died while on holiday with their father in 2006.

In a statement, Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said: "We haven't had this so called letter of apology.

"Its not an apology for their wrongdoing but a general offer of sympathy. It does not address the central issue that their Safety Management System failed and it does not apologise for that."

A spokesman for the holiday company said: "Mr Fankhauser sent a letter of apology to the family on Friday".

The children's parents were responding to a Mail on Sunday report that suggested Thomas Cook received £3.5m in compensation for loss of profits and other expenses.

The grieving family said they received around one tenth of that sum in compensation for the deaths.

In a statement, Thomas Cook said: "The Greek court, in 2010, found the deaths of Robert and Christianne were the result of unlawful action by hotel employees.

"We had the right to reclaim costs related to the trial from the hotel. The costs incurred by the company far exceed the amount that was received from the hotel."

image copyrightPA
image captionNeil Shepherd and Sharon Wood battled to get legal aid to be represented at the inquest
image captionThe boiler that leaked carbon monoxide fumes that poisoned the children was described in hearings, as "decrepit"

The holiday firm had earlier said it was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the tragedy.

"Thomas Cook recognises that the pain caused by this terrible accident will never go away and must be still very hard for friends and family to bear," it added.

The children, from Horbury near Wakefield, were on holiday at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel with their father, Neil, and his now wife, Ruth, when they died. They were found by a chambermaid in a bungalow at the hotel.

Their father and stepmother had also become ill and were in a coma when they were found but recovered in hospital.

On Wednesday, an inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case and concluded Thomas Cook had "breached its duty of care".

It found the children had been overcome by fumes from a faulty hot water boiler housed near the bungalow they were staying in.

The family was accompanied during the inquest by their local Labour MP Mary Creagh.

She said Thomas Cook had stopped short of a full apology.

"It does not address the central issue that their safety management procedures and policies failed, and for that they have not apologised," she said.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, who represents the family, called for a change in the law forcing holiday firms to put carbon monoxide detectors in all rental cottages and villas.

A criminal trial was held in Greece in 2010 following a long campaign by the children's family.

Three people, including the manager of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel and two members of staff, were found guilty of manslaughter by negligence and sentenced to seven years in jail.

Eight other people were cleared, including two Thomas Cook travel reps. The trial cleared the firm of any responsibility.

Related Topics

  • Horbury
  • Greece
  • Thomas Cook Group

More on this story

  • Thomas Cook apologises to parents over Corfu gas deaths

  • Corfu deaths: 'Thomas Cook failed our family'