Qatar silent on newspaper probe into death of former Thomas Cook and TUI boss Marc Bennett

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Qatar silent on newspaper probe into death of former Thomas Cook and TUI boss Marc Bennett

Qatar has refused to comment on a national newspaper investigation that claimed former Thomas Cook and TUI director Marc Bennett told friends he had been arrested and tortured shortly before his death.

Marc had been hired by Government-owned Discover Qatar and Qatar Holidays in 2017 to promote the destination ahead of the World Cup, which it is hosting this November.

However, he had resigned from his role of Senior Vice President of Discover Qatar and Qatar Holidays in October 2019 and had been offered a job with a Saudi firm.

On returning to Qatar to sign-off some paperwork, The Times said Marc had told friends he was arrested at the offices of Qatar Airways, owners of Discover Qatar and Qatar Holidays, and taken blindfolded and handcuffed to a police detention centre where he said he was tortured.

Following his release three weeks later, he was unable to leave Qatar as his passport had been confiscated and he was found 10 weeks later, hanged in his room at the Curve Hotel in Doha on Christmas Eve.

Marc, who was former MD of TUI Sport and MD of cruise at Thomas Cook, was 52.

His death had been labelled as suicide, but a UK coroner said there was ‘no specific evidence of suicidal intent’ before his death and that ‘the circumstances of the months leading up to his death remain unclear’.

The night before he died, he had been ‘laughing and joking’ on a video call to his wife Nancy and their children. He did not leave a suicide note addressed to any loved ones, said The Times. 

The newspaper said: “His treatment raises difficult questions for Qatar Airways, for the Qatari authorities and for the Foreign Office about what it did to help a Briton in distress and to assist his family later in finding answers.”

A spokesman for Qatar Airways told The Times: “On 15 October Marc left the business and evidence subsequently came to light showing that over a significant period of time Marc had emailed highly confidential documents relating to Qatar Airways to a private email address without authorisation. Marc was still in Qatar at the point this discovery was made. He was arrested and this then became a police matter.”

The Foreign Office told The Times: “We provided assistance to the family of a British man, following his death in Doha.”

The Qatari Government did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment, but in a note to the Foreign Office it said Marc had been seen by the security police  ‘in good health’ and the security service was ‘not responsible for [his] suicide as it was an individual act’.

Qatar Airways told the paper: “Marc Bennett was a valued and popular former colleague of Qatar Airways Group who made a significant contribution to our business and, while we were sad to see him leave the business, he left with our best wishes.

“Marc’s former colleagues at Qatar Airways were shocked to hear of his tragic death and we provided assistance to his family by way of a contribution towards repatriation costs and certain travel and other costs.”

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