David Bookbinder loses his legal claim over cruise ship's early wake-up call
FORMER Derbyshire County Council leader David Bookbinder has lost his legal battle against two holiday firms, which he tried to sue after claiming he was made to wake "unreasonably" early while on holiday.
The ex-politician claimed he and his brother had to get up at 3.30am one morning while aboard a luxury cruise liner touring the Mediterranean Sea in February.
On the morning the ship was due to call at Israel's Eilat port, Mr Bookbinder said staff had asked passengers to be ready by 5am, so they could be interviewed by Israeli officials ahead of being allowed into the country.
Mr Bookbinder, 71, argued the early start was to facilitate the selling of excursions and that the immigration procedures could have been held at a "more acceptable" time.
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He said the experience caused a level of "distress" that "ruined" the holiday.
As such, he decided to sue Thomson Cruises and booking agent Thomas Cook for the entire cost of the seven-day cruise – about £1,500.
The matter has now been resolved by a small claims court in Derby, where district judge Malcolm Davies ruled in favour of the holiday firms.
The hearing heard the situation arose when the ship – the Celebration – was diverted away from Egypt, where it had been due to stop, because of political unrest there. A replacement stop at Eilat was arranged, as were excursions to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The district judge said: "A cruise holiday such as this can be marred by unexpected events. It was not unreasonable for the first defendant (Thomson Cruises) to change the itinerary given the situation and the advice of the Foreign Office.
"The crux of the matter is whether it was reasonable for the first defendant to arrange to dock at 5am. I consider yes, it was reasonable."
The district judge said it was clear some passengers on board wished to go on the excursion trips. For them to be sold in time, he said a 5am check-in was acceptable.
"It may have been inconvenient for other passengers but it was not a breach of contract," he added.
The district judge also threw out Mr Bookbinder's claim against the booking agent, Thomas Cook, ruling there was "simply no contract between the two parties".
Both holiday firms made an application for their costs to be paid by Mr Bookbinder.
The district judge ordered Mr Bookbinder to pay 50% of Thomas Cook's costs – £568.80 – after saying his case was built on "not so much very thin ice but no ice at all".
However Mr Bookbinder did not have to pay Thomson Cruises' legal costs, as the district judge ruled he did not act "unreasonably" in bringing the case against them.
Mr Bookbinder insisted he had "no regrets".
He said: "I feel the money I now have to pay is well spent. This shows people what can happen and I feel the general losers will be the tour operators, as people will take this ruling into account when deciding whether to book a cruise holiday."