A ST Neots man is one of 24 British tourists seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation following a coach crash in Bulgaria. Anthony Wilkinson, of Crosshall Road, suffered bruising when the coach he was travelling in left the road, drove do

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A ST Neots man is one of 24 British tourists seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation following a coach crash in Bulgaria.

Anthony Wilkinson, of Crosshall Road, suffered bruising when the coach he was travelling in left the road, drove down a bank and overturned.

He was just one of a number of holidaymakers injured in the collision, which took place in 2005 en route from the airport to the ski resort of Borovets.

The 41-year-old, who had been travelling with four of his friends, said the crash had resulted in his developing a fear of travelling on coaches.

Speaking to The Hunts Post, Mr Wilkinson, who works at Cryrovac packaging company in St Neots, said the crash ruined his holiday and caused a lot of distress.

Describing the experience, he said: "The first I knew something was wrong was when I looked out of the front window and saw a sign coming towards us. I thought we were going to hit it but the coach slid across the road and down a bank. I was stunned and couldn't talk. It all happened so quickly and was a very frightening experience."

Crystal/TUI UK Limited, which provided the package holidays, claimed the accident was caused by severe weather and a strong gust of wind had blown the coach off the road.

Nearly five years on and a court has ruled in favour of the tourists and against the tour operator.

Following a three-day trial at Birmingham County Court, ending on November 11, a judge concluded the collision had been caused by driver error.

A statement released by TUI Ski described the ruling as "disappointing".

The statement read: "Safety has and always will be TUI Ski's number one priority. Nearly 400,000 people holiday with the company annually and we recognise that accidents can and will happen. Therefore particular importance is placed on health and safety of all our customers.

"TUI Ski recognises that the last four years have been distressing for all who were involved in the crash, and we are sorry that this accident happened."

Solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, representing the injured Brits said the court victory proved lessons of safety must be learned.

Philip Banks, of Irwin Mitchell said: "I am extremely pleased that the Judge, His Honour Judge Robert Owen QC, found in favour of our clients.

"Too many Britons suffer serious injury on foreign roads each year. More, clearly needs to be done now to reduce the risk of accidents involving coaches."

Irwin Mitchell said the court success could lead to hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation, of which Mr Wilkinson could receive about £3,000.

Mr Wilkinson said: "I'm pleased with the result and feel that justice has finally been done. The money won't make up for what happened but it is a huge relief for it to finally be over.