A couple who falsely claimed they’d fallen ill on a TUI holiday have been ordered pay a record £15,000 in damages to the operator.
TUI, meanwhile, has raised concerns with regulators because it transpires that the GP who confirmed the couple’s sickness is married to a partner in the law firm that took the case.
It says this relationship raises serious ethical and legal questions and has brought it to the attention of the relevant governing bodies.
In a ruling at Liverpool County Court, Recorder Sally Hatfield QC, said the claimants – Chelsea Devine, 21 and Jamie Melling, 22, from Liverpool – were ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and she ordered them to pay a record £15,000 in damages to TUI.
Nine months after returning from their Benidorm holiday in 2016, the couple submitted identical claims for £2,500 each, saying the food and drink at the holiday resort left them ill for weeks.
However, social media posts showed otherwise, according to Mail Online.
6PCS Packing Cubes Value Set for Travel Luggage Organiser Bag Compression Pouches Clothes Suitcase£6.49 – £6.69 Select options
American Tourister Bon Air 4 Wheel Suitcase£62.19 – £79.63 Select options
2 x TSA Security Padlock – 4-Dial Combination Travel Suitcase Luggage Bag Code Lock (Black) – Lifetime Warranty
£16.99Add to cart
Aerolite Super Lightweight ABS Hard Shell Travel Carry On Cabin Hand Luggage Suitcase with 4 Wheels, Approved for Ryanair, Easyjet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Many More£27.99 – £34.99 Select options
… WHILE STOCKS LAST … PREMIUM DESIGNER Hardside Luggage – Heys Disney LED Toy Story great for kids£49.98 – £59.98 Read more
The judge said the couple had not complained at the time of their 10-day stay at the Levante Beach Apartments and said their statements were written by someone else.
She said: “I find that they have not proved that they were ill.
“There is no evidence of contamination. I accept the evidence of the hotel, and there is no evidence of any outbreak.”
The Mail on Sunday says TUI has reported Dr Zuber Bux, the medic who gave evidence supporting the Devine and Melling’s claim, to the General Medical Council after finding out he is married to a partner at the legal firm representing them.
TUI has also reported Dr Bux’s wife, Sehana Bux, who works at AMS Solicitors in Preston, to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
TUI said: ‘We believe the fact that medical evidence is being produced by the husband of a partner of AMS, the firm of solicitors representing Ms Devine and Mr Melling, raises serious and obvious ethical and legal questions.
“We’ve made the General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority aware of this and also highlighted our concern to the court.”
TUI added: “It’s disappointing we have had to go this far to defend our industry and hotel partners, as well as protect honest holidaymakers. The court has found they brought claims that are fundamentally dishonest and have been ordered to pay our costs.
“This goes to highlight the penalty you can face if you bring an exaggerated or fraudulent holiday sickness claim.”