Couple fined record £15,000 for false holiday sickness claim

Benidorm1

A couple attempting to gain thousands of pounds in compensation have had their “fundamentally dishonest” case thrown out of court.

Chelsea Devine, 21, and Jamie Melling, 22, from Liverpool, claimed they had both been struck down with food poisoning during a 10-day all-inclusive holiday to Benidorm with travel operator Thomson (now Tui) in June 2015. The pair claimed they had only ate and drank at the Levante Beach Apartments and had fallen ill on the fourth day of their break.

While they claimed to have been sick they failed to report it or lodge a complaint while they were away, or upon their return. Ms Devine and Mr Melling made identical claims in May 2016 for a reported £2,500 each – almost a full year after their holiday. They were also caught posting pictures of their stay on Facebook.

Judge Recorder Sally Hatfield QC, presiding at Liverpool County Court dismissed their claims describing them as “fundamentally dishonest”. The couple was ordered to pay Tui £15,000 – a record amount for a false holiday sickness claim case.

Recorder Hatfield questioned why the couple waited a year to lodge the claim and why they did not complain at the time of the holiday. The judge added that there was no evidence linking the illness and the stay at the hotel.

Speaking of Ms Devine and Mr Melling’s case, Recorder Hatfield said: “I cannot accept that they would upload photographs of themselves as a happy couple if the holiday was as they claim. The statements are identical. They say that they did not collude, but it is clear the statements were not written by them. There are inaccuracies in them.

“I do not accept that they did not raise the fact of their alleged illness with the hotel because they were young and inexperienced. They were young, but they were in contact with their parents, who apparently gave them no advice.

“I find that there is no reason why they did not complain. I do not attribute any illness to the unsatisfactory food. There is no evidence of contamination. I accept the evidence of the hotel, and there is no evidence of any outbreak.”

Tui welcomed the decision but stated that it was “disappointing” that the company had to “go this far to defend our industry and hotel partners, as well as protect honest holidaymakers”.

This is the second case of false holiday sickness claims involving Tui in recent weeks. A judge at Southern Derbyshire magistrates recently handed out suspended jail sentences to a couple that had attempted to gain £50,000 from the travel operator after claiming to have fallen ill during a holiday to Turkey in July 2015.

Once again, the couple was exposed after posting pictures of their stay at Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort and Spa on Facebook.

Read more about the recent case here – https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/news/couple-ordered-to-pay-record-costs-for-tui-false-sickness-claim-13568

Learn more about ABTA’s Stop Sickness Scams campaign here – https://abta.com/tips-and-latest/abta-campaigns/holiday-sickness