Corfu death tragedy to be debated in parliament

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The deaths of two Yorkshire children from carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu will be debated in Parliament next week.

Holiday firm Thomas Cook has been under huge pressure since an inquest jury in May concluded that Bobby and Christi Shepherd had been unlawfully killed and that the company breached its duty of care to the family.

Bobby and Christi, aged six and seven - from Horbury, Wakefield, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek holiday island in 2006 when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP for Wakefield who has championed the children’s parents’ campaign against Thomas Cook, said she has secured a debate in the Commons on Tuesday evening.

Mrs Creagh said she met with new Thomas Cook chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, on Tuesday.

On Thursday, the firm said it had drafted in former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King to lead an independent review after its disastrous handling of the deaths.

Mr King will investigate the holiday company’s “customer health, safety, welfare, relations and crisis management practices” after fierce criticism over its response to the tragedy.

Mrs Creagh said she will set out how the family were failed by Thomas Cook during the debate on Tuesday.

“Having worked with the family for the past five years, their dearest wish is that no other family suffers a similar tragedy,” she said.

“As British families get ready for their summer holidays, they want to know they will come home safely. That’s why I am pressing Thomas Cook and the UK government to lead a Europe-wide campaign for improved carbon monoxide safety.

“Ministers have dismissed action at EU level for higher safety standards against carbon monoxide poisoning. That shows a shocking indifference to the safety of holiday makers in the wake of this tragedy.

“That must change. David Cameron should make the safety of British tourists a priority as he seeks to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU.”

Thomas Cook was thrown into turmoil amid severe backlash over its treatment of Christi and Bobby’s parents - Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd - and after it initially accepted nearly £3 million of compensation for legal expenses and lost revenue following the tragedy.

It later apologised to the family and gave £1.5 million to children’s charity Unicef.

Thomas Cook also revealed last month that former chief executive Harriet Green was awarded a controversial shares bonus worth around £5.7 million, but said she would donate a third to charities chosen in consultation with Ms Wood and Mr Shepherd.

Mr Fankhauser, who succeeded Ms Green as chief executive of Thomas Cook last November, has admitted the travel giant failed in its handling of the tragedy and pledged to help the children’s parents move on with their lives.