Published on Friday, February 24, 2017
The coroner at the inquest into 30 British holidaymakers killed in Tunisia has rejected a request to rule that neglect played a part.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith will not give his final conclusions until Tuesday, but indicated yesterday that he would not accept the neglect submission being made on behalf of the families of the victims.
He said he wanted to let the families know as soon as possible so they didn't spend the weekend wondering what his decision would be.
"I think the sooner the families know, the better," he said.
During the inquest, which began on January 16, Thomson and First Choice parent TUI has been accused of failing to properly check security at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel where a lone gunman opened fire on June 26 2015.
Seifeddine Rezgui killed 38 people, 30 of them TUI customers, before he was shot dead by police.
Andrew Ritchie QC, representing the victims' families, said they believed TUI's 'utter complacency' amounted to neglect.
"The families do criticise the, in effect, neglect, we say gross neglect, of security at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel by TUI. They did not audit at all. It is not that they carried out some audits; there were none at all, before or after Bardo. We particularly say that that is gross neglect in the context of the country having a high risk for terrorism," he told the inquest in his submission yesterday.
But Howard Stevens QC, counsel for TUI, argued that 'some steps were taken'.
He argued that even with more CCTV cameras or guards at the hotel, it might not have made a difference.
TUI was criticised because the gate from the hotel to the beach was not shut or locked, but Stevens argued this might have actually made matters worse, because those on the beach would not have been able to escape through it.
He also argued that TUI had acted in line with other tour operators in sending tourists to Tunisia, based on Foreign Office advice.
Andrew O'Connor, counsel for the Foreign Office, also argued a neglect verdict was 'not available' on the evidence heard.
Irwin Mitchell, the law firm acting on behalf of some of the families, said the coroner's decision would not have any bearing on civil action being taken against TUI.
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