Grieving relatives of the Tunisia attack to sue tour operator
The announcement came after coroner Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith rejected calls from some relatives to rule that neglect by travel firm TUI or the owners of the Rui Imperial Merhaba Hotel in Sousse played a role in the deaths.
Families of those killed by Islamic extremist Seifeddine Rezgui wept as the judge ruled that they had all been murdered while innocently holidaying in the Mediterranean resort in 2015.
In a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the inquests finished, Kylie Hutchison, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents most of the victims’ families, said: “It is now crucial that the whole travel industry learns from what happened in Sousse to reduce the risk of similar catastrophic incidents in the future.
“On behalf of our clients who lost members of their family and those who suffered injuries in this terrible incident, we will now be preparing to commence civil proceedings against TUI.”
Ms Hutchison said: “During the past seven weeks, both the coroner and the families we represent heard shocking evidence about the level of security precautions at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel at the time of the terrorist attack.
“The level of terrorist threat in Tunisia had been escalating for some time prior to June 2015.
“This includes the failed suicide bomb attack at a beach in Sousse.
“Then, following the terrifying events at the Bardo Museum in March 2015, the Tunisian minister of tourism issued a letter requiring all hotels to improve security measures.
“Tragically these steps were not implemented at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel.”
She said tour operator TUI had said it was “unaware” of the letter.
She added: “Our clients are very grateful to the coroner for his careful and sensitive handling of the inquest proceedings.
“They feel that he has been fair and thorough in his investigation and appreciate how he has tried to ensure throughout the families come first.”
Nick Longman, the managing director of TUI UK, said the attack had “shocked and devastated all of us”.
Speaking to reporters outside court he said: “We are so very sorry for the pain and loss those affected have suffered.
“On that day the world changed. As an industry we have adapted and we will need to continue to do so.
“This terrorist incident has left its mark on all of us and its impact will always be remembered.”