Thomas Cook previously sued over illness claims at Egypt hotel where British couple died

The tour operator had to pay out £26,000 in compensation and costs

Helen Coffey
Thursday 30 August 2018 16:33
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Egyptian hotel evacuated after British couple found dead

Thomas Cook has been sued by a family struck down with gastric illness while staying at the same Egyptian hotel where a couple died last week.

The Valu family from south Wales was awarded £26,000 in compensation and costs by Newport county court last month after staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in Hurghada in April 2016.

The court ruled against the tour operator following the family’s claims that it failed to ensure food and drink was safe for human consumption and that they were served raw, undercooked and stale food. They said they experienced symptoms for the next two months.

John and Susan Cooper died at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel

Just four weeks after the Valus won their case, John and Susan Cooper from Burnley died suddenly while on a package holiday to the same resort.

The cause of death remains unclear; while originally Egyptian authorities called the Coopers’ deaths “the normal death of an English old man and his wife”, they have since said a “strange odour” was detected in the room where they died. Experts have been brought in to investigate the ventilation system.

Other guests at the hotel claim to have experienced gastric illness and said they were served raw food and drinks in dirty glasses.

Thomas Cook said it had audited the hotel in July 2018, when it scored a total of 96 per cent.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our first priority and we would never send customers to a hotel which we do not believe to be safe,” a spokesperson said. “We audit all 3,000 of our core hotels every year and so far this calendar year we have removed 47 hotels for health and safety reasons and a further 150 which did not meet our strict quality criteria.

“As well as the audits our quality teams regularly inspect our properties and provide support, guidance and training to help hotels improve.

“We last audited Steigenberger Aqua Magic in July 2018.”

Over 300 British tourists are being removed from a hotel in Egypt after a couple from Burnley were found dead

In 2018 alone, five legal claims have been lodged against the tour operator for illnesses contracted while at the Aqua Magic hotel.

Joanne Brine, a partner at JMW Solicitors, which handled the Valu’s case, said: “It's very sad to hear of the deaths of John and Susan Cooper on what should have been a happy family holiday, yet also incredibly concerning given our experience with this hotel in regards to hygiene standards.

”The fact that we have brought concerns to Thomas Cook's attention about the accuracy and reliability of the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel's record-keeping should set off alarm bells for those investigating what the failings of the management team to safeguard the health of its guests may have been on this occasion.

“I sincerely hope that a thorough investigation will make sure that the family get the answers they need to understand exactly what happened inside that hotel room and to ensure the safety of future holidaymakers is prioritised.”

Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, flew to Egypt on Wednesday 29 August to discuss the Coopers’ deaths with Mostafa Madbouly, the Egyptian Prime Minister, and potentially secure access for Thomas Cook investigators to the couple’s hotel room.

Fankhauser said that, as yet, the cause of death is unknown but that he will ensure the Egyptian authorities “get to the bottom of it and to get to the cause”.

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