Tunisia inquest clears travel operators of neglect

Ann and Jim McQuire were among the victims of the Tunisia terror attack

Ann and Jim McQuire were among the victims of the Tunisia terror attack

The inquest into the death of British holidaymakers killed in the Tunisia beach massacre has cleared travel firms of neglect.

However, the coroner slammed the police handling of the attack as “at best shambolic and at worst cowardly”.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith refused to accept the neglect submission raised by families of the victims, who included Scottish couples Jim and Ann McQuire from Cumbernauld and Billy and Lisa Graham from Perthshire.

At the London inquest, which opened last month, Thomson and First Choice parent company TUI were accused of failing to ensure security at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel was up to standard prior to June 26, 2015, when lone gunman Seifeddine Rezgui murdered 38 people before being shot by police.

Howard Stevens QC, counsel for TUI, argued that his client had acted in line with other tour operators in sending people to Tunisia and in accordance with advice from the Foreign Office.

A verdict of unlawful killing was delivered yesterday (Tuesday).

The judge considered the police response inadequate after hearing how officers ran away as Rezgui fired bullets and threw grenades at holidaymakers in an hour-long killing spree before being gunned down himself.

The coroner told families pushing the negligence claims that the law did not cover tourists on holiday and applied only where someone had a duty of care towards another person due to their age, health or incarceration, and not people who voluntarily went on holiday.

The Tunisia beach massacre was the deadliest attack on British citizens since the London bombings of July 7, 2005.

Since the attack, security at Tunisian resorts has improved significantly.

However, the current travel advisory information from the Foreign Office is that further terror incidents are highly likely, and it warns against all but essential travel.