Thomas Cook bosses will be hauled in front of MPs tomorrow morning and forced to explain the firm’s catastrophic collapse, which left 150,000 Brits stranded abroad and forced the biggest peacetime repatriation in history by the British government.
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser will answer questions from the Commons’ business select committee, in the first evidence session of a wide-ranging inquiry into why the holiday giant came crashing down to earth, putting most of its 9,000 British employees out of a job.
The probe is set to focus on what MPs have called the “corporate greed” of top-level bosses. Fankhauser will be joined by chairman Frank Meysman and finance boss Sten Daugaard.
They will likely face a grilling, after weeks of accusations from politicians and regulators alike that they ran the firm into the ground while taking home handsome pay packets.
Questions will also focus around Thomas Cook’s failed rescue plan, corporate governance, the debt taken on by the company and its accounting practices.
Days after the firm went bust, Labour MP and committee chair Rachel Reeves, said the collapse “has uncovered what appears to be a sorry tale of corporate greed, raising serious questions about the actions of Thomas Cook’s bosses and their stewardship of the business”.
Head of corporate governance at trade group the Institute of Directors (IoD) Roger Barker warned against a “knee-jerk” reaction to the investigation.
He said that although the failure is a cause for concern, Whitehall must not “paint all collapses with the same brush”.
“Though we look forward to the committee’s final report, our initial conclusion is that Thomas Cook’s collapse was less a failure of the UK’s overall system of corporate governance, and more a reflection of the company’s business model and external developments affecting the travel sector.”