£300,000 for husband who became ill on honeymoon

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The Independent Online

A man whose honeymoon was ruined when he contracted a potentially fatal illness said he was delighted today after being awarded nearly £300,000 compensation from a holiday company.

Julian Hurley, 50, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, launched a claim against tour operator First Choice following his diagnosis with a form of dysentery called shigella after eating "poor-standard" food at an all-inclusive hotel in Venezuela in August 2004.

Mr Hurley, who was admitted to hospital for five days on his return to the UK and still suffers from ill-health five years later, has now received £286,500 after the company admitted liability for his illness.

Mr Hurley and his wife Jayne booked the package holiday with First Choice Holidays and Flights Limited to the Costa Caribe Hotel for their honeymoon.

The couple said Mr Hurley became ill after eating undercooked food at the all-inclusive resort but was unable to seek medical advice while abroad.

He was immediately admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary on his return and was treated with intravenous drugs and antibiotics. He now suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The husband and wife described their experience as "hellish" and said the illness had not only impacted on their relationship but would affect Mr Hurley for the rest of his life.

Mr Hurley, who was represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "When we went to the hotel restaurant I tried a variety of different dishes, which included cooked meats. The food was of an extremely poor standard, a lot of the dishes were undercooked and some of them were almost cold.

"The impact that this hellish holiday has had on our lives has been devastating. I now struggle to walk long distances and find myself getting tired easily. I am still suffering from symptoms to this day and will do for the rest of my life, which has been very difficult to come to terms with.

"I also had to reduce the number of hours I could go to work and, to this day, I have not returned to my pre-holiday working pattern. This has impacted on my relationship with my wife as, instead of me being the main breadwinner, she is. She now has to look after me, rather than the other way around.

"I am delighted with the settlement that Irwin Mitchell was able to achieve for me. It will allow me and Jayne to close this awful chapter in our lives and start looking to the future."

Elizabeth Tetzner, international travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: "My clients have been through enough. Their honeymoon was ruined and Mr Hurley will suffer symptoms for the rest of his life. This settlement will hopefully go some way to helping them put this behind them and move on with their lives.

"It is a tour operator's responsibility to ensure that standards of hygiene are maintained in the hotels they choose to send holidaymakers to so that other people do not have to suffer as Mr Hurley has."

Shigella, also called bacillary dysentery, is often acquired by drinking water contaminated with human faeces or by eating food washed with contaminated water.