Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Tonight: Britain's Claim Culture - Revealed

Hayley Hassall reports on Britain's Claim Culture - Revealed - ITV at 7:30pm on Thursday 12th October Photo: ITV/Tonight

The government is set to ask tour operators and claims lawyers to lay out their evidence of bogus holiday sickness compensation claims, the Tonight programme understands.

The news follows a spate of thousands of claims worth millions of pounds from people who said they had been sick after going on all-inclusive holidays.

The issue was featured in this evening's, Britain's Claim Culture - Revealed.

holiday 'sickness claims' at all-inclusive resorts have been on the rise. Credit: ITV/Tonight

The programme understands that as part of its wider investigation, the Ministry of Justice will formally announce a ‘call to evidence' to gather information from travel tour operators, claims lawyers and experts to attempt to find out the scale of the fraud.

Among the evidence the government is trying to gather is the number of claims, the time elapsed between incidents and settlements, and how successful the claims are.

Tonight spoke to Brits who had genuinely fallen ill on holiday, as well as travel and fraud experts, to examine the scale of the problem. The programme discovered some Spanish hotel owners have banned British holidaymakers because some claimed so often.

The Adkins genuinely fell sick whilst on holiday Credit: ITV/Tonight

President of the Mallorcan Hotel Federation Inma De Benito says some owners have given up on what she describes as ‘the British market’. She says:

“They continue working with the same tour operator but with other markets, because they don’t want to get this problem. It’s very difficult to stop. It’s a very big market for us. Not only for Majorca, for Spain."

– Inma De Benito, President of the Mallorcan Hotel Federation

Tour operators report a 500 per cent increase in overall claims in the last three years - and one has said it has seen claims rise by a staggering 1,000 per cent.

Richard Conroy, of sickholiday.com, set up the firm to help people who have been genuinely ill on holiday.

He says the increase in the majority of the claims is down to the fact people now know they can claim if they are really ill for food poisoning:

"We’ve seen 1,800 cases from Majorca. Nearly half the cases have come from just three or four hotels. When you interview the people, they talk about lukewarm food."

– Richard Conroy, sickholiday.com
Richard Conroy, from sickholiday.com set up his website for people have genuinely been sick on holiday Credit: ITV/Tonight

Footage used in the programme shows earlier this year there were touts in Spain approaching holiday makers saying that all they needed to do to get compensation was to buy diarrhoea relief medication.

Inma De Benito says touts coach tourists by telling them what evidence they need:

What they [touts] do is to send this client data to the lawyers. They then send a letter to the tour operators with the claim, and then get the money from the hotelier."

– Inma De Benito, President of the Mallorcan Hotel Federation

Now travel firms are starting to take action against those who falsely claim compensation.

One such example is Michael McIntyre and Julie Lavelle, who decided they had fallen ill following a holiday to Gran Canaria, demanding £10,000 in compensation.

Tour operators Thomas Cook decided to challenge them. They had evidence that on the plane home McIntyre filled out a survey rating most aspects of his trip ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

The couple also returned to work the day after they landed back home.

In July a judge in Liverpool found their claim to be ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and made them pay £3,700 in court costs.

Chris Mottershead, managing director of Thomas Cook, says:

"We weren’t prosecuting these people, we were defending ourselves, we had strong evidence. These were unconfirmed illnesses - they were not ill in the first place and we had evidence to prove that and I’m happy to say that we won that case. If you are ill contact us. We have 2,000 people in resort who are there to make sure our customers have the very best experience."

– Chris Mottershead, managing director of Thomas Cook

Last month (September) two British women were arrested on suspicion of fraud - for being the alleged ring-leaders of local touts trying to convince holiday-makers to make claims.

They deny the allegations.

If you missed Britain's Claim Culture - Revealed, catch it on the ITV hub.

Follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information about future programming.