British Airways to pay undisclosed sum to African children 'molested by pilot'


British Airways has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to children in Africa who were allegedly molested by one of its pilots.

First Officer Simon Wood, 54, took his own life after he was charged with committing child abuse offences.

BA agreed to the payment but denied "legal responsibility".

Mr Wood, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, had been due to appear in court to face separate charges of indecent assault on an eight-year-old girl and possessing indecent images of children but was found dead in August 2013.

Lawyers acting on behalf of 38 children and young adults who claim the pilot assaulted them had said that BA bears responsibility because he carried out the alleged attacks at schools and orphanages while on stopovers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The alleged period of abuse was from 2001 to 2013, when the victims were aged between around four and 18, law firm Leigh Day said.

Nichola Marshall, head of the international abuse team at the firm, 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 will 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."

BA issued a statement which read: "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."

An inquest in July 2014 found that Mr Wood had taken his own life when he was struck by a train near Potters Bar station.