Thomas Cook is to report the BBC to media regulator Ofcom over this week’s Panorama programme on the deaths of two children on holiday in Corfu last October.
Six-year-old Bobby Shepherd and his seven-year-old sister Christianne are believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty gas boiler pumping fumes into the bungalow in which they were staying at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.
The operator labelled the programme investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths as “incomplete, inaccurate and unbalanced” and has complained to the BBC and Ofcom about “gross misrepresentation of the facts”.
Ofcom could instigate an investigation. If the complaint is upheld, the BBC could be forced to apologise.
Thomas Cook chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa dismissed the programme’s claim the company’s health and safety audit was a ‘tick-box exercise’ carried out by a
25-year-old holiday rep.
He said the audit was performed by a consumer affairs representative who had the relevant training and was authorised to carry out such audits. He stressed the bungalow and boiler had been cleared by two other major UK operators.
“The implication we would ask anybody to undertake such a specialist task without the necessary qualifications and training is simply untrue,” Fontenla-Novoa said.
The children’s mother Sharon told the programme: “I hold Thomas Cook totally and utterly responsible. It should have checked the places it sends its customers are safe.”
Fontenla-Novoa dismissed Panorama’s claim he has refused to meet the children’s parents. He said he has offered to meet the family personally on “a number of occasions”.
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