A British couple who attempted to gain compensation by submitting false holiday sickness claims have been jailed in a landmark case.
Deborah Briton and her partner Paul Roberts attempted to claim £20,000 compensation from Thomas Cook after stating that they and their two children had fallen ill on holidays to Majorca, Liverpool crown court heard. The pair claimed they had been struck down by gastric illnesses on the breaks in 2015 and 2016.
The couple had boasted of holidays of “sun, laughter and fun” on social media leading Judge David Aubrey QC to brand their claims as a “complete and utter sham”. Briton was sentenced to nine months in prison after admitting four counts of fraud while Roberts received a 15-month sentence.
The verdict came on the same day the government unveiled new tactics to tackle the issue of holiday sickness claims. Ministers have called on travel operators to provide evidence on suspicious cases which have been damaging the reputation of UK holidaymakers abroad. It is also said to be costing Spanish hoteliers millions of pounds.
This latest initiative has been welcomed by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) which said in a statement: “It is crucial that the government brings in new rules which control legal costs on holiday sickness claims as soon as possible, and we welcome the chance to be able to submit further evidence from our members to help crack down on these bogus claims.”
Research has shown that the amount of holiday sickness claims lodged by British holidaymakers has surged by a massive 500% since 2013. The government and the travel industry have been working hard to deter people from taking these measures and this landmark case is hoped to highlight the criminal implications of such action.
Sentencing Briton and Roberts at Liverpool crown court, Judge Aubrey QC said: “[the claims] were bogus from start to finish, you were both asserting on your behalves and on behalf of your two children that on two separate holidays you had suffered illness. They were totally and utterly fake.
“Those who may be tempted in the future to make a dishonest claim in relation to fake holiday sickness, if they are investigated and brought to justice, whatever the circumstances of an individual, he or she must expect to receive an immediate custodial sentence.”
Read more about ABTA Stop Sickness Scams campaign here – https://abta.com/tips-and-latest/abta-campaigns/holiday-sickness/stop-sickness-scams-videos
Read more about the landmark case here – https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/oct/13/couple-who-faked-holiday-sickness-claims-are-jailed