Published on Friday, March 4, 2016

BA pays damages to child victims of sex abuse by pilot





British Airways has agreed to settle a claim by 38 children and young adults who were abused by one of its pilot during stopovers in Kenya and Uganda.

First Officer Simon Wood even abused girls and young women while he was working for charities linked to the airline.

Although BA has agreed to pay out an undisclosed sum to the victims, it denies any liability for the 12 years of abuse.

A BA spokesman said today: "The allegations against Simon Wood have been shocking and horrifying. Though we do not bear any legal responsibility for Simon Wood's actions, we recognise the impact they had on his victims and the distress and suffering they caused.

"This recognition is reflected in the agreement we have made with the victims' representatives."


Wood, from Hertfordshire, committed suicide in 2013 by throwing himself in front of a train after he was charged in the UK with indecent assault and making and possessing indecent photographs of a child. He was aged 54.

According to law firm Leigh Day, which handled the claim, Wood abused children and young women aged between around 4 and 18 in schools and orphanages during stopovers between 2001 and 2013 whilst flying for BA.

It is alleged that some of the abuse took place at five-star hotels used by the airline.

The legal case centered on whether BA could be held vicariously liable for the actions of Wood and whether it had a duty of care for the children abused in the countries Wood visited whilst working for the airline and taking part in charity work.

Nichola Marshall, head of the international abuse team at Leigh Day, who is acting for the 38 girls and young women, said: "For three years we have been fighting for compensation for these young girls whose childhoods were destroyed by the sexual abuse they were subjected to by Simon Wood, a British Airways Pilot.

"Now that British Airways has agreed to compensate our clients, a decision which we welcome, these girls we be able to complete their education, which for many was seriously disrupted because of the abuse. They will also be able to access therapeutic treatment to help relieve the psychological pain that has resulted from the abuse.

"Sadly we are seeing more and more of these cases of British child abusers travelling overseas where, by virtue of their sex, race, age and job title, they are able to exploit some of the most vulnerable children in the world in the most awful ways.

"This settlement should send a message to organisations which send their employees to work or volunteer with children. They need to ensure proper safeguards are in place to prevent such horrific acts."


 



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