Thomas Cook face safety summit

Sharon Wood with Paul Wood (right, husband) and Neil Shepherd (left, ex-husband)
Sharon Wood with Paul Wood (right, husband) and Neil Shepherd (left, ex-husband)
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A HOLIDAY company which breached its duty of care over the deaths of two children poisoned by carbon monoxide in Greece has signalled to their parents it will fight for better regulation in EU villas and apartments.

Bobby and Christi Shepherd, from Wakefield, died while on holiday in Corfu in October 2006 and earlier this year an inquest found that they were unlawfully killed.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her brother, Robert, six, who died after a faulty boiler leaked gas into their bungalow in Corfu in October 2006.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her brother, Robert, six, who died after a faulty boiler leaked gas into their bungalow in Corfu in October 2006.

The youngsters, aged six and seven, were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a faulty boiler at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek holiday island.

On Monday the children’s parents Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood, from Horbury, Wakefield, and experts on carbon monoxide regulation and doctors will gather in Parliament to mark carbon monoxide safety awareness week nine years after their children’s death.

Labour MP for Wakefield, Mary Creagh, said the family are determined that Bobby and Christi’s legacy is that such terrible loss never happens to another family.

Yet their fight continues to get carbon monoxide alarms installed in holiday accomodation within resorts, apartments and villas in the European Union fitted with gas boilers and for much better safety regulation.

On Monday Ms Creagh said she expects to hear more from Thomas Cook’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser on the company’s assurances made to Sharon and Neil in the last few months in person that “they are going to lead on getting regulation at an EU level”.

Ms Creagh said: “If Thomas Cook decide that they want to lead on regulation that’s a huge share of the holiday market.”

Currently there are no rules across Europe that dicate holiday accommodation should have carbon monoxide alarms. However at the end of October progress was made when MEPs voted on the recommendation that the Commission brings forward legislation to improve carbon monoxide safety for tourism premises in the EU.

However before the EU Commission puts a law on the table, it needs much stronger backing from the British Government, and Conservative MPs voted against the idea in the initial recommendation.

Thomas Cook will also discuss its Safer Tourism Foundation, which will focus on all aspects of making holidays safer for customers, and has taken advice from Sharon and Neil on how it should operate.

Ms Creagh said: “The family have shown incredible strength. It’s been uphill all the way, and nothing has been easy for them.

“Their dearest wish is that no other family suffers like theirs.”

Recognising the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will also be discussed on Monday with A&E doctor Simon Clarke.

The odourless gas claims the life of 40 people a year in the UK and is responsible for 4,000 hospitalisations.

“It’s not something the medical community is particularly alive to,” said Ms Creagh.

“In A&E it can be diagnosed as flu - the symptoms are very similar with headaches, shivering, feeling cold - or gastroenteritis.”

It has been revealed that a British couple staying in the villa the week directly before Neil, his girlfriend and children, arrived were taken ill were treated at a local hospital for gastroenteritis symptoms.