The Thomas Cook Group has defended its decision to cancel the remainder of its Kenyan winter programme.

Speaking as he announced the audited results ending October 31, 2007, chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said the operator was right to end its programme earlier this month as political rioting descended into tribal violence.

With more than 850 Kenyans dead  following December’s alleged rigged elections, he argued that the group had no other option but to behave responsibly and in the best interests of its customers.

Fontenla-Novoa said: “As an industry and as the Thomas Cook Group we’ve got to act on Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and the Federation of Tour Operators advice. The safety of our customers is always paramount.

“Sometimes that leads to difficult decisions that we have to make. For the Kenyans to say that we haven’t supported them is totally wrong as other countries pulled out much earlier than the UK did.”

He said no decision has been made as to when the programme will restart, adding: “We will continue to monitor the situation and as soon as we can get back in there we will do. From a group point of view that destination is incredibly important to us.”