A BRITISH mum claims her five-year-old daughter was abducted by a woman in a hijab after being left in a Thomas Cook holiday kids club in Turkey.
Janet Alexander, from Inverness in Scotland, left her little girl Rose at a supervised play group in the Royal Wings Hotel in Antalya.
She then took her eldest daughter Lois, nine, to a scuba lesson and when she returned to the kids club after an hour Rose was missing.
Janet claims hotel staff didn’t even know she was gone as a frantic search for the child was launched.
It’s understood the search came to an end 20 minutes later when another hotel guest spotted the blonde youngster walking with a woman in a hijab near a main road.
Thomas Cook confirmed it was investigating the alleged incident and working with the hotel “so that this can’t happen again”.
Janet, who is suing the holiday firm, said she feared something sinister had happened to Rose.
She added: “This has been the most traumatic experience of my life.
“I thought my daughter was either dead or faced being trafficked and abused.
“People need to realise these staff-led play groups aren’t the safe places we believe them to be.
“I’ll never trust Thomas Cook again.”
The nightmare holiday in April this year was the first ever trip abroad for Janet and her daughters.
The family were three days into a week-long break when the alleged abduction happened.
It’s believed that Rose was taken just minutes after being dropped off at the play area.
The youngster and woman were brought back to the hotel by the guest who spotted them.
Rose told her mum and staff she thought her abductor was a staff member as she was already inside the play area.
The primary school pupil was then invited to “go for a walk” and thought it was okay as she remembered going for outside walks at preschool.
Janet has described seeing staff turn to the mystery woman and speak to her in Turkish.
But when staff failed to answer any questions Janet took her two daughters to the local police station.
With the help of an on-duty interpreter cops said they couldn’t look into the matter as Rose had not been physically harmed and was safely returned.
The incident was then reported to Thomas Cook’s hotel rep.
But Janet claims that the tour operator still hasn’t responded after almost two months.
The senior charge nurse with NHS Highland remains shaken by the ordeal.
She hasn’t been able to return to work due to suffering from extreme anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
And she has voiced her anger at Thomas Cook who she claims haven’t apologised for what went on.
She said: “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.”
Janet has now launched a civil claim and hopes the outcome will lead to improved safety standards.
Simon Richards, Associate with the Foreign & Travel department at Digby Brown Solicitors, is pursuing the legal case which could be worth a five-figure sum.
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.
“The case is ongoing so it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
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Thomas Cook confirmed it was investigating the alleged incident.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “We were very concerned to hear of this incident and we understand how distressing it must have been.
“We are investigating thoroughly with the hotel to understand what happened and we will work with the hotel to make any required changes so that this can’t happen again.”
Turkish police and the British Consulate in Antalya have also been contacted for comment.
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