Audley Travel admits liability after client death

Luxury operator Audley Travel has admitted liability for the death of a mother in a boating accident in Brazil three years ago.

Gillian Metcalf, 50, died from head injuries after a boat she and her husband Charlie, and their daughters Natasha and Alice were in, crashed with another vessel on the Rio Negro river in September, 2013.

Mrs Metcalf, a lawyer from Kent, was on a family holiday on a trip booked with the operator.

The family were on their way to the Juma Amazon Lodge as part of a 12-day tour of the South American country, when she was fatally hurt in the collision.

Two local boatmen went on trial in Manaus and were found guilty of the equivalent of manslaughter and eventually imprisoned. But the operator has taken three years to admit liability.

Lawyer Jenny Kennedy, a partner at London-based Anthony Gold, told KentOnline: “It’s taken three years [for Audley Travel] to accept responsibility [for Gillian’s death] and it’s been an agonising wait for the family.

“It’s very hard to understand why they didn’t accept responsibility in the first place and I had to issue proceedings in the High Court for compensation. None of us was going to give up.”

Audley Travel chief executive Ian Simkins said: “Our deepest condolences go out to the Metcalf family.

“We are incredibly sorry for the tragic event and since then we have tried to support the family as best we can, for example providing on-the-ground support during the criminal proceedings in Brazil and admitting liability under the package travel regulations.

“At present, we are waiting for the family’s solicitors to submit a legal claim, and we hope to hear from them soon.

“We are sorry that this has taken a long time but are keen to resolve the legal matter for the sake of the family.” 

The amount of compensation has yet to be determined, but Mr Metcalf was forced to spend tens of thousands of pounds of his own money in getting justice for his wife.

He said: “Throughout this whole time Audley Travel’s legal representatives refused to admit liability. This has added great financial uncertainty to a period of grief and readjustment.

“Finally Audley Travel’s legal representatives have admitted full liability. I do not know why this took so long or what finally prompted them to act in the way justice always demanded.

“I hope now the case can be settled fairly and without further unnecessary and cruel delay and we can turn our efforts to other things.”

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