Abta has urged the government to fix a legal loophole before the summer peak after a couple, caught out on Facebook, were handed a suspended jail term for faking illness.

Leon Roberts, 37, and Jade Muzoka, 27, falsely claimed to have fallen ill on a Tui holiday at Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa, Turkey, in July 2015.

But investigators unearthed Facebook pictures of them enjoying dinner, lounging by the pool and drinking.

They dropped their claim, which could have cost Tui £50,000, but the travel giant went on to take action against the couple, who pleaded guilty at a hearing last month.

On Monday, Roberts and Muzoka were given a 26-week jail term, suspended for a year, at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court.

After the hearing, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The government must make good on its promise to bring overseas personal injury and sickness claims into the fixed legal cost regime, which will cap the exorbitant fees many solicitors are charging on the back of false sickness claims, in time for this year’s holiday season.

“Anyone tempted to submit such a claim must now realise they run the risk of a criminal record and prison sentence.”

A Tui spokeswoman warned: “Anyone making a claim against Tui should understand that we do not pay compensation for claims of this nature. We will bring all similar cases to a court hearing.”

Thomas Cook defended a Liverpool family’s claim for £10,000 in July, while another couple, Deborah Briton and Paul Roberts, were jailed in a separate case against Cook in October.

The number of UK sickness claims shot up by about 500% between 2015-17, according to Abta, while Tui reported claims against it rocketed by 1,400%.

Travel Weekly launched its Fight Fake Claims campaign last year, which aims to reduce the number of fraudulent holiday sickness claims that are blighting the UK travel industry.

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