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Capitalism and its pursuit for profit has many individual tragedies and this story is one of them
Manny Fontenla-Novoa who was chief executive of Thomas Cook’s UK and Ireland operation in 2006 and went on to become group chief executive was told by the coroner in the inquest of the deaths of two children from carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu, the travel company boss has told an inquest that he did not have to answer any questions that might incriminate him and the witness then responded to virtually every question put to him by saying: “I decline to answer.”
Leslie Thomas QC, representing Bobby and Christi’s family, asked “I’m going to suggest to you that what was more important to Thomas Cook was profit so Thomas Cook put profit before safety.” Fontenla-Novoa said: “I decline to answer.”
Thomas Cook Group in 2009 was a FTSE-100 company with worldwide sales of £8.5bn and 22.3 million customers.
Thomas asked about Thomas Cook’s health and safety systems and Fontenla-Novoa declined to answer all his questions. The barrister said: “If these systems worked, these kids would be alive. So what happened?” Fontenla-Novoa refused to answer.
Thomas said: “Your staff have all sat there and declined to answer. Are you going to lead by example and co-operate?” The witness again refused to answer. Thomas then read Fontenla-Novoa a series of specific questions he said the family had asked him to put directly. The former chief executive refused to answer them.
Capitalists always decline to take responsibility for the system they serve.