AN Inverness mum is suing holiday giant Thomas Cook, claiming her daughter was abducted from a hotel kids' club during a family break in Turkey.
Single mum Janet Alexander (46) said she left five-year-old daughter Rose for about an hour at a supervised play area in the Royal Wings Hotel in Antalya during the holiday in April.
Taking Rose's older sister Lois to a scuba diving lesson she said Rose was missing when she returned and a frantic 20-minute search ensued before another hotel guest spotted the little girl walking with a woman in a hijab near the main road.
"This has been the most traumatic experience of my life," she said. "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 holiday was the first ever trip abroad for Janet and her daughters and the family were three days into a week-long break when the abduction happened.
After both Rose and the woman were brought back to the hotel by the guest who spotted them Ms Alexander said hotel staff spoke to the mystery woman in Turkish, but failed to answer any questions she put to them.
On that basis she said she took the matter to the local police station only to be told officers could not look into the matter as Rose had not been harmed and was safely returned.
A senior charge nurse with NHS Highland Ms Alexander said she has not been able to return to work due to suffering from extreme anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
"No matter how much I process things it just leaves me in pieces, she said. "I've been shaking and in tears ever since it happened – I even struggle to leave the kids at school now."
She branded Thomas Cook "a disgrace" and said the lack of an apology so far has left her feeling unable to move on.
She is now suing the firm.
Simon Richards, associate with the foreign and travel department at Digby Brown Solicitors which has taken on the case, said: "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."
A spokesman for Thomas Cook 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."
He added that the firm's customer service team had been in touch with Ms Alexander and was offering support to her.