SEVERAL people, including a number of Brits, have been arrested by police in Majorca during a major operation against fake holiday food poisoning claims.
Civil Guard officers have seized computers and bundles of documents during court-authorised searches of properties and businesses on the island.
The operation, which swung into action yesterday morning, was focused on the municipality of Calvia, which includes Magaluf, as well as the Majorcan capital Palma.
Most of the searches are understood to have taken place in the glamorous marina of Puerto Portals, the exclusive nearby residential area of Bendinat, where retired English footballer Jamie Redknapp owns a villa with his estranged wife Louise, and San Agustin.
Sources said they believed two to three of the six people believed to have been held were British.
An investigating judge coordinating the operation has placed a secrecy order on the case, which prevents officials from making any public comment but does not restrict reporting of the operation.
It emerged at the end of June that a court in Palma was probing hundreds of food poisoning claims lodged by British holidaymakers after being handed the result of a police probe sparked by a complaint by the Mac Hotels group.
Lawyers acting for the hotel group sparked a lengthy police investigation after handing them a dossier of evidence pointing to the food claims being fake which was put together by a team of private detectives.
The file handed to the court centres on claims received last year from tourists who had stayed at he three-star Club Mac resort in Puerto Alcudia.
The fraud has been calculated at POUNDS four million – with the hotel group challenging 273 claims involving 797 holidaymakers.
Earlier this week a British-born businesswoman who has spent most of her life living in Majorca was forced to deny any involvement to the fake food poisoning scam after she was linked to the scandal by a Spanish-language local newspaper.
Diario de Mallorca claimed alleged middlemen spotted near hotels trying to recruit tourists prepared to make fake claims, had been using a car belonging to the businesswoman’s firm.
The expat admitted to the the newspaper the vehicle was hers but claimed she had nothing to do with the fraudulent claims scam.
On June 9 a British man was arrested and another questioned by police in Majorca on suspicion of encouraging tourists to make fake food poisoning claims.
The pair were held in Pollensa in northern Majorca in what was believed to be the first Spanish police action of its kind at the time.
It was not immediately clear if yesterday morning's operation was linked, although police said after taking the two British men in for questioning in June that they were not ruling out further arrests.
At the weekend tour giant Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser admitted only one in 100 holiday sickness claims made by British tourists against all-inclusive hotels is genuine.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “Only around one, maybe two, per cent of the claims we receive are not false or exaggerated.
“I haven’t seen a challenge to our industry like this during my 28 years working in travel.”
He spoke out as it emerged a UK claims firm that urged clients to lie had become the first to be stripped of its licence.
Preston-based Allsure Ltd encouraged tourists to fabricate or embellished symptoms of gastric illness to get compensation.
The problem is estimated to be costing the Spanish hotel industry alone £50million a year.
In June, it emerged a bodybuilder’s compensation claim for food poisoning had unravelled after Facebook pictures showing him enjoying meals on his break to Turkey.
Leon Roberts, 38, from Alvaston, Derbyshire, demanded compensation from travel firm Thomson and his hotel, but claimed after pictures emerged of him tucking into steaks and sushi: “I was ill on the holiday but I’m willing to drop the claim as I’m currently in a dispute with my ex-partner and I don’t want the extra stress of it all.”