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‘Total failure’

Government inaction on Thomas Cook exposed at select committee
Barckley Sumner, Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

The government’s inaction and its failure to intervene and save some or all of collapsed travel company Thomas Cook was further exposed at the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee hearing today (October 23).


While giving evidence Dean Beale the chief executive officer of the Insolvency Service revealed that on September 13, 10 days before Thomas Cook went into compulsory liquidation, he had written a brief for Andrea Leadsom MP the secretary of state for BEIS, outlining what would occur if Thomas Cook was forced into compulsory liquidation.


Despite receiving that brief it is now known that neither Ms Leadsom nor any junior minister or official at BEIS made contact with Thomas Cook before its collapse.


Also during his evidence session Mr Beale revealed that £11 million had been spent on the fees charged by the special managers KPMG and Alix Partners in the first four weeks since Thomas Cook’s collapse in liquidating the company.


Those fees are on top of the expected £100 million cost of the repatriation of Thomas Cook holidaymakers and the millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money spent on paying redundancy pay, notice pay and other monies owed to the 9,000 workers who lost their jobs.


“The admission from the Insolvency Service further highlights the inertia and inaction of the government prior to Thomas Cook’s collapse,” said Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland.


“Despite receiving a direct briefing about the consequences of Thomas Cook’s collapse, no one at the department of BEIS including Andrea Leadsom thought it worth holding meetings with Thomas Cook, or even picking up the phone and speaking to them.


“The department for BEIS needs to reveal if a cost benefit analysis was ever produced comparing the cost of providing a bridging loan to Thomas Cook, to the cost to the taxpayers of the company’s liquidation. Taking into account the actions identified by the Airline Insolvency Review that does not require primary legislation.


“If no analysis was carried out this is a further gross dereliction of the government’s duty and its total failure to protect a loyal and dedicated workforce.”


Today’s hearing follows a previous one on Tuesday (October 22), where Holland gave evidence on behalf of Unite and its Thomas Cook members.


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