Abta have been campaigning against false claims. The case brought by Thomas Cook might just prove to the most effective campaign. | Archive

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Deborah Briton and Paul Roberts were today given prison sentences of nine and fifteen months respectively, having been found guilty of making false compensation claims for holiday sickness. Judge David Aubrey said at Liverpool Crown Court that the claims had been a complete and utter shame: "they were bogus from start to finish."

Thomas Cook took out what was a landmark prosecution against the couple who claimed that they had fallen ill at the Globales America hotel in Calas de Mallorca. The tour operator used evidence from social media, which demonstrated that the couple had in fact enjoyed "a fantastic holiday" in both 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, and after a summer of negotiations between the Balearic, Spanish and UK authorities, it appears that the game may be up for the false holiday claim pirates who have been fleecing tour firms and hoteliers out of tens of millions of euros and pounds for the past few years.

False holiday claims have cost Majorcan hoteliers millions of euros since 2014, and this year the industry reached the point of threatening to ban British holidaymakers unless steps were taken to close the loophole in UK law which claim chasers were using to push through fraudulent claims of an average of 2,100 pounds a time. Some of the claims were being made two to three years after the alleged incidents and the main targets, the easier ones, were all-inclusive hotels.

Travel industry bosses and trade bodies were today asked to help the UK government put together new rules designed to crack down on false holiday sickness claims. They are being asked to submit evidence in the next four weeks to help give ministers a greater insight into the rise of false claims for gastric illnesses by holidaymakers. The findings will be used to help establish new regulations which the government hopes to introduce early next year.

Abta has launched its own campaign to educate British travellers on the legal implications of making fraudulent claims after seeing a 500% increase from around 5,000 claims in 2013 to around 35,000 claims in 2016.

The association blames the "unscrupulous, aggressive and sometimes illegal" practices of claims firms who have turned their focus to holidays after new legislation was introduced in 2012 to limit legal costs in other sectors, such as motor insurance, making cases like whiplash claims less profitable.