Mother to sue holiday firm over 'abduction'
A mother is suing Thomas Cook after claiming her daughter was abducted from a hotel kids club in Turkey.
Janet Alexander took her two daughters Rose and Lois on their first trip abroad to Antalya in April.
The single mother said she left Rose, aged five, at a supervised play area in the Royal Wings Hotel while she took Lois, nine, to a scuba diving lesson.
But when Ms Alexander returned around an hour later she said Rose was missing and a "frantic" search ended when another guest spotted the blonde girl walking with a woman near the main road.
Rose told her mother she thought the woman was a staff member as she was already inside the play area.
The primary one pupil said was then invited to "go for a walk" and thought it was okay as she did it at school.
Ms Alexander said hotel staff failed to answer her questions about the incident so she went to police in Antalya, but officers said they could not look into the matter as Rose had not been physically harmed and was safely returned.
The incident was then reported to a Thomas Cook rep at the hotel but Ms Alexander said she has had little response from the company.
The 46-year-old from Inverness said: "This has been the most traumatic experience of my life.
"I thought my daughter was either dead or faced being trafficked and abused."
She added: "No matter how much I process things it just leaves me in pieces.
"I've been shaking and in tears ever since it happened - I even struggle to leave the kids at school now.
"My work, neighbours, family and friends have all been really supportive.
"Even though they couldn't do anything, the Turkish police were kind and sympathetic.
"But Thomas Cook have been a disgrace - they haven't apologised and have actually gone to great lengths to ignore me.
"What happened has changed our whole way of living and without even apology it's like I can't get closure and don't know how to heal."
Ms Alexander has now launched a civil claim and hopes the outcome will lead to improved safety standards.
Thomas Cook said its customer welfare team are offering support to Ms Alexander.
A spokesman said: "We are extremely concerned to hear of this incident.
"We can only imagine how distressing it must have been for Ms Alexander.
"We have a launched a thorough investigation to understand how this happened and we will work with the hotel to ensure it cannot happen again."
The hotel said its children's club was safe and secure.
Simon Richards, associate with the Foreign and Travel department at Digby Brown Solicitors, is pursuing the legal case.
He said: "Janet and her loved ones understandably feel traumatised by this incident.
"Thankfully Rose was safely reunited with her family but her abduction had a very serious and lasting detrimental impact.
"The Royal Wings Hotel breached its contractual duties by failing to look after children in its play area but Thomas Cook are ultimately responsible as it is the company who sold the holiday."