Leeds & West Yorkshire

Corfu gas deaths: Thomas Cook has 'nothing to apologise for'

Christianne and Robert Shepherd Image copyright PA
Image caption Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her brother Robert, six, died from carbon monoxide poisoning

The boss of Thomas Cook has said the tour operator has nothing to apologise for over the deaths of two children while on holiday.

Robert and Christianne Shepherd, from Horbury in Wakefield, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu in 2006.

Group chief executive Peter Fankhauser told an inquest into their deaths that he felt "incredibly sorry" for the family but did not have to apologise.

Earlier, the children's mother confronted the former chief executive.

Leslie Thomas, QC, representing the children's family, asked Mr Fankhauser to explain why he did not feel Thomas Cook should apologise.

The CEO said: "I feel so thoroughly, from the deepest of my heart, sorry but there's no need to apologise because there was no wrongdoing by Thomas Cook."

Image caption Peter Fankhauser took over as group chief executive of Thomas Cook in November 2014

Robert and Christianne died while they were on holiday with their father and step-mother at Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, booked by Thomas Cook.

Experts have previously told the inquest how a hot water boiler in an external outhouse had a number of faults and this was the source of the lethal carbon monoxide.

Mr Fankhauser said Thomas Cook, which had a policy of avoiding hotels where rooms had gas hot water appliances, was lied to by people at the hotel who said there was no gas supply at the complex.

He said the immediate cause of the problem was that a vital safety device had been disconnected on the boiler.

The CEO gave evidence after Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who was chief executive of Thomas Cook's UK and Ireland operation in 2006 and went on to become group chief executive.

Mr Fontenla-Novoa exercised his legal right not to answer questions that could incriminate him.

This prompted the children's mother Sharon Wood, who was in the public gallery, to say he should "speak up for himself".

The hearing continues.

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