British couple face losing their home after five-star Greek hotel countersues them for £170,000 because they made a ‘fake’ £10,000 claim that the resort’s food and drink made them ill
Sean and Caroline Bondarenko are alleged to have fabricated a £10,000 claim against the five-star Caldera Palace Hotel in Crete after saying the resort’s food and drink made them ill.
The case comes after travel firms in the UK and Europe said holiday sickness claims by British tourists had increased by up to 700 per cent in the past 18 months.
In damning court documents, the Crete hotel has made a counter-claim against the Bondarenkos, saying they enjoyed their holiday and ‘consumed large quantities of alcohol’ when they were supposed to have been sick.
Atlantica Hotel Management Ltd claims the couple from Darlington, County Durham – who booked their holiday with Thomson – did not report any illness during their one-week stay in October 2013, and didn’t make their bid for compensation until three years later. The hotel chain says it has a dossier of Facebook posts which demonstrate the Bondarenkos enjoyed their stay. It is thought to be the first time holidaymakers have been taken to court accused of making a fake sickness claim.
Now the couple are trying to drop their claim. Thomson said: ‘UK holidaymakers should understand that if they make a fraudulent claim they could face prosecution at home or overseas.’ Mr Bondarenko, 47, said he and his 42-year-old wife had been ill, but only for a day or so. He added: ‘We would not have made a claim if the claims management firm hadn’t got in touch.’
‘We asked our solicitor to drop the claim in February because we felt uneasy about it, but they said we would have to pay legal costs.’
Mrs Bondarenko added: ‘I was horrified when I saw the court papers which listed all these negative things we were supposed to have said about the hotel.’
‘We never said any of those things. I rang the solicitor and she told me not to worry about it. We are terrified for our future and petrified we will lose our home.’ Their solicitors, Opes Law, said: ‘The allegations are unequivocally denied. Opes takes its duties to its clients seriously. When things occasionally go wrong, clients are advised to use our complaints policy and procedures to resolve any dissatisfaction.’