A crackdown by the travel industry against fake food poisoning claims for compensation from British holidaymakers has started to find its way through to our courts.
A family of three appeared at Liverpool magistrates court last week charged with six counts of fraud after alleging they were ill with food poisoning on holidays to Majorca and demanding £52,000 in compensation from Thomas Cook. Deborah Briton, 53, her partner Paul Briton, 43 and a daughter Charlene Briton, all pleaded not guilty and face up to six years imprisonment if the case against them is proved. Their claim was handled by David Norman Solicitors of Nelson, Lancashire.
The case follows that of another Liverpool family, Julie Lavelle, 33, and her partner Michael McIntire, 34, who submitted a claim for up to £10,000 against Thomas Cook alleging that they and their two children experienced diarrhoea and vomiting for two weeks during a stay in Gran Canaria. Their claim was thrown out by Liverpool County Court and they were ordered to pay costs of £3,744 to Thomas Cook. And another holidaymaker Amy Hughes, 28, from North Wales has been ordered to pay £25,000 to Thompson after she unexpectedly dropped her compensation claim for sickness alleged to have occurred at a five-star hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Both of these claims were handled by solicitors Bridger and Co, of Llandovery, Carmarthenshire.
The travel industry says that fake claims, almost all from British holidaymakers, are costing it £50 million in Spain alone and blames holidaymakers for being persuaded by claims management companies, which take a large percentage of any compensation paid, and tout for business at resorts, to defraud the holiday companies. One Liverpool based company was recently caught touting at a cancer charity event they had sponsored. Previous pay-outs of compensation have been called into question and may result in a clawback through the courts by the travel industry.