Published on Friday, February 24, 2017

Tunisia inquest coroner rejects calls to rule neglect

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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  • Tragic

    I agree Richard. The guilty party was "sentenced to death" and applying hind sight to this sad affair in order to lay the blame at the door of Tui or anyone else for that matter, is beyond unfair. I do feel for the families involved, but had the same thing happened on a train, would they be suing British Rail for selling them a ticket (after all UK is also on high alert) ? - Maybe the lawyers would find a way . . . It would be more beneficial if more emphasis was put on those workers who went out of their way to save lives.

    By Ruth Lawrence, Friday, February 24, 2017

  • I feel ashamed...

    ...that the ambulance chasers trying to screw money out of TUI seem to come from my own country, once known for its fairness and reasonableness. There is very little that TUI could have done to prevent this atrocity and it is quite wrong that they should be subject to this kind of legal attack. TUI could, of course, have played it safe and evacuated the resort as soon as there was any hint of danger - and then the same lawyers would be looking to sue TUI for non-performance of their contract! The winners in any legal battle will be, of course, the lawyers - which is why they try to get involved in these kinds of proceedings. Things like terrorism happen and it is quite wrong for people to try to find scapegoats; the person truly responsible is dead and it is wrong to try to find someone else to blame.

    By Richard English, Friday, February 24, 2017

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