Harpenden woman joins legal fight over holiday food poisoning

A HARPENDEN woman whose family suffered from severe gastric poisoning whilst on holiday in Turkey has joined hundreds of other holiday makers in taking her fight to the Royal Courts of Justice.

Rachel King, 38, was one of 584 people who claim they were poisoned during their stay at the Holiday Village Turkey resort in Sarigerme, between May and October 2009.

Court proceedings have now been started by law firm Irwin Mitchell who have seen more than 1,200 people take action with them since 2005 following incidents of gastric illness at the 500-bed hotel.

Mrs King visited the resort with her husband and two children, who were aged two and seven at the time, for a family holiday in August 2009.

“We wanted somewhere with good facilities for the kids,” she said. “I’m a teacher so we’re quite restricted about when we can go away so we were all really looking forward to it.”

But shortly after the family arrived for their 10-night stay, things took a turn for the worse. Mrs King’s youngest daughter was sick in the breakfast room and felt ill for a couple of days.

She went on: “As she started to get better, my husband became really ill and was bed-bound for three days, leaving me to look after the children by myself.

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“My eldest daughter then got chronic diarrhoea which lasted three days. The doctor gave her some medicine and said it was probably due to the ice in her drinks but I wasn’t convinced.”

After the family arrived home, Mrs King became ill herself and was told she had salmonella: “I still can’t believe it really. We’ve been to all sorts of places and have never had anything like this. These things are designed for families and you book them in good faith but we heard several people round the pool saying their children had been ill.

“Haven’t looked at all inclusive holidays since and the whole experience has made me very reluctant to do it again.”

The hotel was offered exclusively to UK tourists by TUI UK as part of its First Choice brand.

A statement from First Choice said: “First Choice can confirm that it has been in communication with a no win, no fee law firm regarding claims of sickness at the Holiday Village Turkey in 2009 for a significant amount of time. We are therefore disappointed to hear that the law firm has now decided to initiate court proceedings against us.

“First Choice closely audit all the resorts to which we operate to ensure that health, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained.

“Out of the 46,000 customers who stayed there last year, only 0.42 per cent reported minor ailments, such as a mild stomach upset.

“The Holiday Village Turkey continues to be extremely popular with our guests and in 2010, 90 per cent rated the accommodation as good or excellent.”