South West Wales

Health and safety officer sues over Tenerife balcony fall

Tenerife beach Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Philip Clay had been on holiday with his wife, children and parents when he fell

A health and safety officer who suffered a fractured skull trying to jump between two hotel balconies while on holiday is suing a tour operator.

Philip Clay, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, fell 20ft (6m) at the 4-star Guayarmina Princess hotel, in Tenerife, London's Appeal Court heard.

He had been trying to reach the other balcony after he and his wife were locked out and she needed the toilet.

He is appealing after a judge rejected his claim for damages from TUI UK Ltd.

The court heard Mr Clay had been on a Thomson package holiday in July 2011 when he and his wife, Valerie, decided to join his parents, who they were holidaying with, for drinks on their balcony after putting their children to bed.

However, they were all locked out on the balcony and, after his wife said she needed the toilet, he decided to take action rather than let her "suffer the indignity of urinating on a small balcony in front of his parents," the court was told.

The hearing was told the normally "sensible" Mr Clay, who was wearing just his pyjama bottoms, tried to cross to his own balcony next door, where he knew the door into his room was unlocked.

Decorative cornice

But he fell two floors to the ground below after stepping over the balcony guardrail on to what he thought was a solid concrete ledge, but which collapsed.

The "ledge" turned out to be a decorative cornice - made largely of polystyrene, the court heard.

He was knocked unconscious and was left lying in a pool of blood for 30 minutes as his wife and parents shouted for help.

Mr Clay, a fire safety and security officer with responsibilities for health and safety at a refinery near his home, has since "fully recovered" from his injuries.

At Cardiff County Court last year, Judge Seys Llewellyn QC dismissed his claim that the cornice was "part of the balcony" and should have been weight-bearing or featured a warning sign.

But he challenged the decision before Lady Justice King at the Court of Appeal on Thursday, insisting the hotel breached safety standards.

She has reserved her judgment on the case and will give her ruling at a later date.