Thomas Cook donates half of Corfu compensation

Christianne and Robert Shepherd Image copyright PA
Image caption Christianne and Robert Shepherd died while on holiday in Corfu in 2006

Thomas Cook has donated half of a £3m compensation payout it received after the deaths of two British children in Corfu to charity, the firm has said.

Christi and Bobby Shepherd, from West Yorkshire, died from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in 2006.

An inquest jury ruled they had been unlawfully killed and said Thomas Cook "breached its duty of care".

The holiday firm was awarded damages against the hotel's owner in 2010.

Thomas Cook said its insurers had taken half of the payout for legal costs. It said donating the remainder to Unicef was "the right thing to do".

Group chief executive officer Peter Fankhauser said: "Thomas Cook has not in any way profited from our claim against the hotel owner.

"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.

"Today I have made arrangements for the full amount - £1.5m - to be donated in full to Unicef, the world's leading children's organisation.

"I believe this is the right thing to do and I apologise to the family for all they have gone through."

Image caption The boiler was described as "decrepit" in hearings

The children, from Horbury, near Wakefield, were on holiday with their father, Neil, and his now wife, Ruth, when they died.

All four 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.

Thomas Cook was cleared of responsibility at a trial in Greece in 2010 and was awarded damages against the hotel's owner.

The inquest held in Wakefield heard a faulty hot water boiler had been housed in an outbuilding attached to the side of the bungalow where the family was staying.

When previously asked about the compensation it received, a Thomas Cook spokesman said: "After it was clear that the hotel was responsible for the tragedy all parties affected were compensated and Thomas Cook received a compensation that partly compensated for the costs related to the incident."

The company said it was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the deaths.

The charity donation by Thomas Cook follows criticism of the firm from the parents of Bobby and Christi over the weekend.

Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood accused the travel giant of not apologising over the deaths following the end of inquests last week.

Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said it was "disgraceful" an apparent letter of apology from Mr Fankhauser was only brought to their attention by journalists.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood "It is disgraceful that after all we've been through Thomas Cook are still putting us last in the equation"

In a statement on Sunday, Mr Shepherd and Mrs Wood said: "It is disgraceful that after all we've been through Thomas Cook are still putting us last in the equation.

"We haven't had this 'so called' letter of apology. We have been shown it by the press and feel it is an appalling continuation of Thomas Cook's PR exercise.

"It's not an apology for their wrongdoing but a general offer of sympathy."

Mrs Wood told The Mail On Sunday: "It seems our children's lives are worth only a fraction of Thomas Cook's reputation."

She said the firm should have apologised at the inquest.

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