Mother of Christi and Bobby Shepherd responds to former Thomas Cook CEO

Friday 29 May 2015

This morning, Sharon Wood, the mother of Christi and Bobby Shepherd, responded to comments made by Harriet Green, the former Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Cook. Ms Wood is represented by Leslie Thomas QC and Una Morris of Garden Court Chambers. Ms Wood's full statement is available below:

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"I learnt about the performance-related bonus Thomas Cook has earmarked for Harriet Green, in last week’s Sunday papers. Given the fact it has been accepted by Thomas Cook that their handling of our families over the years has not been respectful, you could imagine how I felt reading this. Once again, Thomas Cook has not kept the family informed of important developments.

Then Harriet Green decided, without consultation with our families, to announce publicly that she would donate a third of her bonus to charity. We only heard about her decision on Wednesday afternoon and, before we had a chance to discuss it as a family, her statement was released to the media. Yet again it appears to us that our family are secondary despite the fact that our children are at the heart of this. If there is any suggestion that we had involvement in the decision-making process, that is simply wrong and I wish to make that clear now. If Harriet Green feels the need to offload some of the money to salve her conscience, that is her decision to make. To try to gain public empathy by attaching her donation to the memory of our Christi and Bobby I find abhorrent.

Harriet Green was the CEO of Thomas Cook for two and a half years. She claims that she holds her head incredibly high for the work she did to save Thomas Cook and that she put health and safety at the centre of the agenda. Let us not forget that this is the CEO under whose watch Thomas Cook tried to stop the inquest from taking place. An inquest, examining health and safety issues. The truth is that although the deaths did not occur when she was CEO Harriet Green was in charge for two and a half years, during which time the company refused to speak to us, engage with us, or apologise to us.

On Wednesday it was reported that Harriet Green had written to Christi and Bobby’s father, Neil, to offer a meeting but had received no reply. We would like to set the record straight. Neil never received any such letter. Neil wrote to Harriet Green for the first time on 30 July 2013. He then made it clear on no less than five occasions over the course of the next five months that he had still not received any response from her. He is still waiting. Neil’s correspondence will be provided to the media today. As for me, Harriet Green has never had the humanity or compassion to write to me as the bereaved mother of Christi and Bobby and as far as I am aware, she makes no claim to having done this. I would have liked to have met with Harriet Green this week but I have been told that she is out of the country.

We ask the relevant Thomas Cook committee: should they reconsider her performance-related bonus? Because there is much more to the success of a company synonymous with family-friendly holidays than its share price. It must also consider the well-being and safety of its customers whilst on holiday and the way they are subsequently treated.

It is not for us to comment on the size of Harriet Green’s bonus. That must be a matter for her own conscience. We believe that when she took the helm after this tragedy she did not move the company on with sensitivity towards us as a family. If the company’s brand has suffered, those at the top of the organisation must accept responsibility in relation to the decisions made over the handling of us as a bereaved family.

All we ever wanted was to be treated with some humanity given the fact that we were the victims and our children died."

The letters from Neil Shepherd to Harriet Green, former CEO of Thomas Cook, are available here.

More information about the inquest into the deaths of Christi and Bobby Shepherd can be found below:

The family's solicitor is Gemma Vine of Lester Morrill Solicitors, Leeds.

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