Leeds & West Yorkshire

Thomas Cook boss apologises over Corfu gas deaths

Christianne and Robert Shepherd Image copyright PA
Image caption Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her brother Robert, six, died from carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu in 2006

The chief executive of Thomas Cook has said he is "deeply sorry" about the deaths of two British children on holiday in Corfu in 2006.

An inquest found Christi and Bobby Shepherd were unlawfully killed when they were poisoned by carbon monoxide at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.

Peter Fankhauser said: "From the deepest of my heart I am sorry."

The family have said they will meet Mr Fankhauser on Thursday and would not comment until after the meeting.

Paul Wood, husband of the children's mother Sharon Wood, told the BBC they had not seen the apology video.

An inquest jury ruled last week the children, aged seven and six, had been unlawfully killed and said Thomas Cook "breached its duty of care".

The children's parents Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood have previously criticised Thomas Cook for not apologising to them directly after a letter of apology had been sent to them from the chief executive.

Some customers have threatened to boycott Thomas Cook after it emerged the firm received about £3m in compensation from the hotel chain responsible, and following criticisms from the family.

'Going to change'

Mr Fankhauser has now told BBC Business Editor Kamal Ahmed he is "deeply sorry".

"It is clear that there are things that we as a company could have done better in the past nine years," he said.

"In particular the way we conducted our relationship with the family and this is something that we are going to change."

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Media captionThomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser repeated the apology in a presentation of the firm's half-yearly results

He said he took responsibility for the way the company had communicated and Thomas Cook now intended to communicate with the family directly.

"I am not going to repeat the mistakes of the past by talking about the family in public," he said.

Mr Fankhauser also said he regretted saying Thomas Cook had done "nothing wrong" when giving evidence at the coroner's court in Wakefield last week.

He made the comments at a presentation of the company's financial results for the six months to the end of March.

The children, from Horbury, near Wakefield, were on holiday with their father, Neil Shepherd 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.

On Monday Thomas Cook revealed its insurers had taken half the £3m payout for legal costs and it donated the remainder to the children's charity Unicef.

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