Thomas Cook rep refuses to say sorry over children who died in holiday villa
Nicola Jordison, 31, was giving evidence at the inquest in Wakefield into the deaths of Christi and Bobby Shepherd, aged seven and six, who died at a Corfu hotel complex in October 2006.
When she was asked a series of questions by barrister Leslie Thomas QC, representing Christi and Bobby’s family, Mrs Jordison exercised her legal right not to answer questions which may incriminate her.
Mr Thomas eventually said to her: “My clients would like to know whether you want to apologise to them.”
Mrs Jordison said: “I decline to answer that.”
The barrister then asked her: “My clients want me to put it to you that this is the inquest into the deaths of two young children and this is your opportunity to assist. Would you like to take that opportunity?”
Mrs Jordison told the inquest jury: “I decline to answer that.”
Earlier, after West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff spent about an hour reading out lengthy statements made by Mrs Jordison to Greek courts in 2007 after she was accused of manslaughter by negligence, the children’s mother, Sharon Wood, stormed out of the courtroom.
As Mr Hinchliff finished reading the documents and turned to talk to the witness, Mrs Wood stood up in the public gallery, walked out and shouted: “Well done. You know a lot about gas.”
She returned after a short break in proceedings.
As Mrs Jordison stepped into the witness box, Mr Hinchliff warned her that she had a right to not answer any questions if she felt the answers may incriminate her.
In the statements made to the Greek court, Mrs Jordison explained how she was a Thomas Cook rep at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in the summer of 2006.
She said that as part of her job she filled in monthly health and safety audits.
Mrs Jordison said in the statements that she had been told none of the bungalows in the grounds of the hotel had internal gas water heaters.
She said this was why she filled in “n/a” against all the questions relating to this equipment.
The jury has already heard how the children were on a half-term break with their father Neil and his partner, now his wife, Ruth, when they died.
They had been feeling unwell before going to bed and were found dead the next morning in the bungalow where they were staying. The two adults were found in comas.
Experts have described in court how the hot water boiler, which was in an external outhouse, had a number of faults and this was the source of the lethal carbon monoxide.
The coroner asked Mrs Jordison only one question - whether she agreed the statements he read were hers - but she declined to answer.
Mr Thomas asked her a series of questions about the evidence she gave in Greece, her role and her responsibilities.
After saying “I decline to answer” to virtually all the questions he put to her, the barrister asked her about her training by Thomas Cook and whether she had been given a health and safety policy.
He said to her: “These questions are exonerating you, if you want to grab the lifeline I’m throwing you.”
The barrister asked whether she was prepared to tell the jury what she had been told by the tour company and “let Thomas Cook take the rap for it”.
To both, Mrs Jordison said: “I decline to answer.”
Mr Thomas also asked if the health and safety audits she filled in were “five missed opportunities” to flag up problems with the heating systems but she declined to answer.
The inquest continues.