The former chief executive of Thomas Cook has told the parents of two children who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while on a holiday booked through the tour operator he “deeply regrets the incident.”
Manny Fontenla-Nova was giving evidence at the inquest into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd.
The children were poisoned when fumes from a faulty boiler leaked into the bungalow they were staying in during a half-term holiday in Corfu in October 2006 with their dad Neil and his then partner, now wife, Ruth.
Bobby and Christi were found dead in the chalet by a chamber maid and Neil and Ruth had both fallen into a coma.
When questioned by the family’s solicitor Leslie Thomas QC, Mr Fontenla-Nova declined to answer questions quoting a self-incriminating defence.
Mr Thomas then said to him: “I invite you to look my clients in the eye and show that sympathy.”
Mr Fontenla-Nova looked at the children’s mother Sharon Wood and said: “I deeply regret the incident that occurred.”
Mrs Wood said to him: “Speak up for yourself then.”
But Mr Fontenla-Nova then declined to answer a single question put to him by Mr Thomas on behalf of the family.
Mr Thomas said to him: “How does it make you feel that your customers who have paid good money for your services have had to wait eight-and-a-half years to get answers how their children were lost and you are saying I decline to answer. Does that make you feel good?”
Mr Fontenla-Nova replied: “I decline to answer.”
The hearing continues.