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Tunisia attack families likely to sue Thomson

(16 Posts)
Dolly80 Tue 01-Mar-16 18:30:07

Just wondered if anyone else had seen this article and your thoughts on it. My initial reaction on reading the headline was 'how can you sue for a terrorist incident' but on reading the article in full it seems more about validity of insurances/lack of clarity about possible dangers etc.

I'm still not sure how I feel about and wondered if anyone wiser than me had a more informed view.

Kenworthington Tue 01-Mar-16 18:49:32

Hmm well my friend and I booked to go to tunisia (to a hotel next door to the one where the attacks happened), and a couple moths before our holiday afaicr there had been an attack in Tunis, we went to thomsons and expressed concern about it and whether it was safe for us to travel. We had no option to change our booking without being massively out of pocket. So we ended up going anyway, to that very beach. It was fine. Two weeks later the attack happened.

I don't really know what the point of my post was just adding personal experience

Dolly80 Tue 01-Mar-16 19:24:16

I think your post highlights how you would have been financially penalised for changing a booking despite a recent attack in the country you were travelling to.

But I suppose Thomson, or any other travel agent, could argue there is still the element of choice. You could have chosen not to go. And the financial implications are probably detailed somewhere when booking, albeit it in teeny tiny type on a form.

I hadn't considered the insurance implications. I kind of assumed things like 'forces of nature' and 'terrorism ' wouldn't be covered but, should either happen to you, how do you pay to get home or repatriate a loved one (I assumed the UK government help but maybe they don't?)

BunnyTyler Tue 01-Mar-16 19:44:54

I was at a hotel down the beach a couple of miles away when it happened.
I booked last minute for a quick break on my own (booked it on the Monday, got there on the Wednesday I think), came home 2 days after the attack.

I checked the gvt website, checked all the news etc, even asked the intelligence cell on camp (I was still in the forces at the time) if there was any reason to avoid Tunisia.
I was told it was totally fine if I stayed on the resort and didn't travel to the red areas.

Unfortunately no one saw an attack coming, especially carried out as it was.
In my mind it's just one of those things, awful awful tragedy but not anyone's fault as such (other than the terrorists, obviously!).

ProfessorPreciseaBug Wed 02-Mar-16 04:04:31

It's a muslim country. I would never go to a muslim country because I consider islam to be a backward and repressive culture that treats women as second class. These days when the spiritual home of the ideology is in the thrall of wahabbist sect which propogates the most repressive interpretation there is always the chance for some young idiot to take it upon himself to avenge his prophet...

My friend went to Marakesh. He was sitting in the cafe where the bomb went off the following week. Again there weas no intel to indicate something was likely. Whilst there is in reality not much chance of getting caught up in s terrorist attack, it is the underlying theology of islam that puts me off.

BillSykesDog Wed 02-Mar-16 07:31:31

I disagree that nobody could have seen it coming. I think official assessment of the risk in Tunisia was astoundingly over optimistic.

There had already been an attack. ISIS was active relatively nearby in a country with a porous border giving easy access for arms smuggling. Saying that only 'red' areas were a risk was ridiculous, seeing as there was nothing in place to contain that risk and the capability of that risk moving to supposedly 'safe' areas was achieved as easily as someone getting in a car and driving. There was no security in place at the resorts, it really was a case of the government and holiday firms sticking their fingers in their ears and saying 'La, la, la, we're not listening'.

It's not like the risks were hard to identify either, there was a thread on here before the attacks discussing Tunisia holidays where even some random MNers correctly identified the risks.

I think the holidaymakers may well have a case. Personally I think that both the holidays companies and the government minimised, ignored and denied the risk because it was financially or politically expedient to do so. Money and politics was prioritised over safety.

Dolly80 Wed 02-Mar-16 07:52:00

Thanks Bill, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if money and politics were prioritised.

However, if the holidaymakers do have a case, surely it will significantly change how package holidays/ insurance are sold? I'm just thinking that, although most destinations are comparatively 'safe' being able to assure 'safe' travel is nigh on impossible. How would travel agents manage bookings to say Turkey or Paris?

I'm not denying holidaymakers may have been misinformed re: Tunisia, but isn't it hard to draw a line in the current climate?

AyeAmarok Wed 02-Mar-16 18:51:58

I think there are certain circumstances where they could have a point. I think if the negligence of the company has exacerbated the situation then they would have a valid claim.

I don't know much about the circumstances of this attack but if

AyeAmarok Wed 02-Mar-16 18:57:24


But if, say, it was a private beach and the hotel had no security or restrictions on who they allowed in, or if it was staff who turned out to be the terrorists and they had failed to vet them properly or something like that, or the escapes were blocked so people couldn't flee, then I think there is a chance they could be successful.

I just mean generally, not specific to this incident - I haven't heard anything that says any of that applies to Tunisia, just throwing ideas out.

NewLife4Me Wed 02-Mar-16 19:11:20

You are supposed to check with Home Office before going.
The travel agent is advised by them if it isn't safe to travel.
I had just received a job as a rep for Yugotours before the war broke out, obviously, I wasn't allowed to fly out to resorts once the news had broke.
You can't expect travel Agents to risk assess certain areas.Yes, their bosses at corporate level can advise after Home office have informed them.
Most high street TA have no idea what is going on, unless they see certain incidents on tv, they certainly can't go around advising their clients not to travel.

The problem the families will face is that the FCO was saying it was safe. You can't expect the holiday companies to have better intelligence information than the Government. We travelled to that resort after the Tunis attack but before the hotel one so I know what the Travel Advice was at the time. If the Government didn't know then you can't criticise the holiday companies for not knowing either.

BillSykesDog Thu 03-Mar-16 15:47:04

The FCO doesn't advise people not to travel except under extreme circumstances. The terror threat in Tunisia at the time was high, so it wasn't really classified as 'safe', just not dangerous enough to be avoided.

The FCO not issuing a 'do not travel' warning does not absolve travel agencies of the duty to ensure the safety of their customers. Considering there is a thread (linked below) where Mumsnetter's were reporting the exact security threats which led to the attack (ISIS nearby, porous border to ISIS territory for people and arms, access to tourist areas from risky areas being as easy as getting into a car) it's fairly reasonable to expect the board of directors of a multinational company to be clued up to the threat and act accordingly.

There are lots of steps that Thomson could have taken without needing it to get to the stage of an FCO warning not to travel. For example Sharm had so much security that the actual resorts were safe, whereas Tunisian resorts facing similar threats had no security and were sitting ducks.

BillSykesDog Thu 03-Mar-16 15:47:51

A would be very surprised if a court was prepared to extend a holiday company's duty of care to predicting the location of terror attacks. Should people sue Eurostar for selling them tickets to Paris or TFL if they were caught in the 7/7 bombings. Bear in mind that both the UK and France will have a high terror threat level. The UK level has been high for years.

According to MI5 the UK terror threat level is severe.

Better link

"What the threat levels mean

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack.
LOW means an attack is unlikely.
MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently"

So any holiday company that sells trips to Britain should be held liable if there is a terror attack in the UK that affects one of their customers as we are a risky destination.

BillSykesDog Thu 03-Mar-16 16:25:59

Nope. Britain, and France for that matter, are different to Tunisia. Anywhere in Britain or France (or Spain, or the U.S. or Australia etc, etc) can be a target so the threat is generalised and it's both hard to predict where an attack might be. Given that tourists are spread out in lots of different areas and are generally independent travellers (rather than travellers staying in a compound belonging to a travel co), travel companies can't really be expected to provide high level security here, simply because of the nature of the tourist industry is so different.

In Tunisia large numbers of foreigners (who the travel cos knew would be a prized target) were concentrated in small areas, managed by those travel companies with barely any level of security.

And for the situation here to be comparable, you're looking at something like ISIS taking over Scotland and having easy access to England and being flooded with the necessary weaponry for attack. I suspect if that happened then, yes, tourists would expect more security here too.

Plus you have to remember that the UK government had a vested interest in not damaging the Tunisian tourist industry because it was the only example of what the West saw as a successful outcome to the Arab spring. They were essentially sending tourists as canaries down a mine, knowing they wouldn't warn people not to go unless there'd actually been significant numbers of deaths.

Anyway, we'll have to wait and see. But if the question is whether they should have foreseen the threat, I think these holiday makers have an extremely good case.

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