A British holidaymaker who launched a bogus £2,500 bogus sickness claim against Tui could now face criminal proceedings.
Tom Oakey, 30, claimed food poisoning left him bedridden during his stay at a five-star Bulgarian hotel, despite boasting on social media of his and his partner’s “amazing” holiday.
His case was last week dismissed by a judge who, in what is believed to be a first, referred the case to the police to determine whether Oakey’s actions constituted a crime, the Daily Mail reports.
Oakey was ordered to pay Tui £9,000 costs following a hearing at Northamptonshire County Court.
He claimed food and poor hygiene at the Hotel Helena Park in Sunny Beach left him with diarrhoea and abdominal cramps so severe he was unable to leave his room for two days.
Investigators though quickly found images of Oakey and partner Claire Fursey eating and drinking at the hotel he claimed he had gotten ill. They also found posts dating to the days following the couple’s July 2015 holiday which spoke of an “amazing two weeks” in Bulgaria.
Deputy district judge John Josephs in his ruling asked police to investigate whether Oakey’s deceit warranted criminal investigation, the paper added.
Andrew Flintham, managing director Tui UK and Ireland, said: “Not only has Mr Oakey been found to be fundamentally dishonest and ordered to pay our costs, but in a new move, the court has also referred the matter to police for them to make any enquiries about any criminal offences which may have been committed.
“It’s also interesting to see the same firm of solicitors represented Mr Oakey having previously represented another couple who were found fundamentally dishonest back in December 2017.
“We hope this sends out a clear message to anyone else considering making or representing fraudulent sickness claims. We will continue to work tirelessly to defend our industry and hotel partners. We have a duty of care to protect honest holidaymakers and we simply will not pay compensation claims of this nature and we will bring all similar cases to a court hearing.”
An Abta spokesperson added: “Over the past few years, there has been a huge rise in false holiday sickness claims which have cost the travel industry millions of pounds, as well as doing great harm to the reputation of all British holidaymakers.
"The government’s action to close the legal loophole so many were taking advantage of is helping to reduce claims. The courts have also been clamping down on those still tempted to pursue a false sickness claim and people have received hefty fines and even prison sentences.
"These severe penalties should serve as a strong warning that making a false claim comes with serious consequences. Anyone who is genuinely ill on holiday should speak to their hotel or holiday rep to make sure they get the medical help they need.”