A couple who contracted e-coli while on a dream holiday in the Dominican Republic have been paid compensation by tour operator Thomas Cook.

Julie and Paul Johnston, both aged 48, from Sunderland contracted the gastro-intestinal illness within a few days of arriving at the all-inclusive Bahia Principe Resort.

The outbreak in the resort also left many other holidaymakers suffering from serious gastric illnesses. Mrs Johnston was diagnosed with shigella sonnei - a strain of E. coli which causes diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Paul Johnston is a member of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and brought his claim for compensation with the support of the FBU and their personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors. As a result, Thomas Cook has been forced to pay the couple £7,000 damages.

Legal Advice after an Accident Abroad

Julie Johnston explains: “There was no doubting who was responsible for our illness. As we were staying on an all inclusive basis and because the hotel was basically in the middle of nowhere, we ate all our meals on site and drank only fluids that were again provided on site. We’re so relieved that Paul’s union membership covers accidents abroad.”

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “We are very pleased with the compensation secured for our member Paul Johnston and his wife Julie. The couple paid over £1,400 for a long-awaited holiday which was wrecked by e coli, and both continued to suffer long after they returned to the UK.”

Representing the couple, Nicola Waugh, from Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle said: “This was a serious outbreak of e-coli. Many other holiday makers were affected too; over 120 people had been treated on site with similar symptoms, and 25 of them had actually been hospitalised. Given the initial £800 ‘gesture of goodwill’ which Thomas Cook offered the Johnstons, we’re very pleased with the damages secured. There has been a further outbreak this summer at the hotel and it is believed that the hotel has now been closed. “