The 13 May 2015 will be remembered as a watershed day following the stunning verdict delivered by the Jury in Wakefield Coroners Court into the deaths of Christianne & Robert Shepherd.
Their deaths produced a shockwave throughout Greece, amongst Holidaymakers and the Travel Industry.
HolidayTravelWatch commends the parents of Christianne & Robert Shepherd, for their courage and resolve in pursuit of the truth surrounding the deaths of their children and support the statements made by them and their barrister, Leslie Thomas QC outside the Coroners Court.
The Organisation notes that they have had to endure nearly 9 years of court hearings and investigations from Greece to the United Kingdom; we consider that this is unacceptable in a modern civilised society.
The Jury returned a verdict of 'unlawful killing', made a number of observations about the circumstances leading to their deaths and declared that in their view that Thomas Cook had breached their Duty of Care to the Shepherd Children. It is reported that the Coroner will now produce a detailed report setting out his recommendations to the Tour Operator.
HolidayTravelWatch attended this inquest in which it was revealed the method and manner by which holiday resort assessments were and may still be carried out by some tour operators.
It is the view of this Orgnaisation that two essential ingredients were missing; common sense and inquisitiveness.
From the evidence we have heard, we are concerned that in the rush to assess resorts, the tick box mentality overrides the application of common sense. We are also concerned that the methodology applied potentially reduces the ability of holiday companies to practice a greater awareness of facilities; to always ask questions for the sake of their customers safety - to be inquisitive!
HolidayTravelWatch is fully engaged within the European Union for the development and promotion of an EU-wide Regulation that enforces safety in holiday properties.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:
“I must begin by offering my heartfelt sympathies to the parents of Christianne and Robert Shepherd; I must also offer my commendation to this couple, who through difficult days have stayed the course to find the truth – we stand shoulder to shoulder with them on this day and in the days to come”
“I have been fully aware of this case since 2006 and followed each twist and turn. We must all ask the questions; why has it taken 9 years for this family to obtain the truth and what should be done to ensure that no parent ever has to suffer like these parents have, ever again?”
“In the one day I have sat listening to the evidence at this inquest, I have been struck that for all the tick box assessments and statements made, it appears that 2 elements were missing, and perhaps missing in other cases of injury and death suffered by holidaymakers and that is, common sense and inquisitiveness.
Tour operators need to train their representatives to ask more questions and be more observant.
Tour Operators need to ensure that their representatives are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the holiday product.
Whilst this case may prove to be a game-changer I fear that nothing will really change until new pan-European Laws are introduced to force hoteliers and tour operators to raise the bar on safety and I call on the European Union to do so without further delay, so that another tragedy like this never happens again.
Politicians and the Travel Industry should all remember – the Consumers are now watching – I am watching – there is now no longer an excuse for inaction - it is time to end avoidable bad holiday experiences!”