Victims of 2015 Tunisia terror attack launch legal action against TUI travel firm
11 October 2018, 13:41
British victims of the 2015 Tunisia terror attack, along with relatives of those who died, have launched legal action against holiday firm TUI.
The families of 22 people who died in the Sousse atrocity, as well as 50 people who suffered injuries such as gunshot or shrapnel wounds or were hurt fleeing the attacker, are taking the company to court.
Represented by legal firm Irwin Mitchell, the group of more than 80 people will challenge the adequacy of security at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel and information provided to TUI customers about the threat level in Tunisia.
Irwin Mitchell hopes the civil proceedings will result in damages being awarded for clients.
On 26 June 2015, gunman Seifeddine Rezgui used a Kalashnikov assault rifle hidden in a beach umbrella to slaughter 38 people at the five-star hotel on the north African coast.
The victims of the attack on the resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse, included 30 Britons and three Irish citizens.
Last year, an inquest into the deaths of the British victims found they had been "unlawfully killed", but a coroner rejected a finding of neglect against tour firms and the hotel.
Judge Loraine-Smith also ruled the Tunisian police response was "at best shambolic and at worst cowardly".
Legal representatives of the victims and the families of those killed had already announced their intent to launch civil proceedings against TUI in the wake of the inquest's rulings.
Mat James, 33, from Pontypridd, Wales, was shot multiple times while protecting his girlfriend during the attack and needed several operations on his leg.
He said: "The horrible attack was obviously life-changing for so many people. Even now, a few years on my injuries are still affecting me.
"We can never forget what happened and I'm lucky to be alive, but hopefully by taking legal action everyone involved can get the help and support we need to aid our recoveries as much as possible."
Irwin Mitchell will claim many of those caught up in the attack were unaware of foreign office travel advice of a "high threat from terrorism" in Tunisia in 2015, which is said not to have been included in TUI brochures or on its website at the time.
Senior associate solicitor Kylie Hutchison described how "the level of terrorist threat in Tunisia had been escalating for some time" prior to the 2015 attack.
She said: "This included a failed suicide bomb attempt outside a beach hotel in Sousse in October 2013 and an attack at the Bardo museum in Tunis in March 2015 in which 22 people were killed.
"Despite this TUI, the tour operator who organised the holidays and was responsible for our clients' safety, did not audit the adequacy of security at the hotel or take appropriate precautions to keep our clients safe from an attack.
"Nor did they inform our clients of the level of threat of terrorism which many of the holidaymakers say would have changed their mind about holidaying in Tunisia at the time."
A TUI UK spokesman said: "We remain truly saddened by what happened on that fateful day in Sousse in June 2015 when 30 of our customers lost their lives in a terrorist attack which started on a public beach.
"Our thoughts remain with all of those who were affected by the horrific incident.
"As this is now subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage except to say we will fully co-operate with the judicial process."