Two and a half years ago, the Daily Mail exposed a British Airways (BA) pilot, First Officer Simon Woods, as a paedophile. The newspaper revealed how the 54 year old would don a fake captain’s uniform and groom young girls with BA branded toys before carrying out his attacks whilst overseas.
It has now come to light that the airline is to pay 38 of Woods’ victims a considerable amount in damages for their ordeals, although the exact figure cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
Woods abused his victims at numerous five-star hotels used by BA, with his offences going undetected for thirteen years. Only when Woods was charged with separate child sex offences in the UK were his other incidents of abuse revealed.
Woods committed suicide just days after he appeared at a London court charged with the abuse in August 2013.
At the time the enormity of his crimes was revealed by the Daily Mail, 38 of Woods’ victims brought a lawsuit against BA – claiming that the airline failed to protect them from the abuse carried out by the First Officer.
The legal firm representing his victims in Africa claimed that whilst flying for BA, Woods molested girls as young as four over a twelve year period during stopovers in Uganda and Kenya.
The lawsuit focused on whether BA ‘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’ and whether the airline was to be held liable for his offences.
A spokesperson for the law 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 British Airways has agreed to compensate our clients, 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.
‘This settlement should send a message to organisations which send employees to work or volunteer with children. They need proper safeguards to prevent such horrific acts.’
Reacting to the news of the settlement, one of the victims said:
‘The money will help my school fees because it has been a problem to me. And when I finish schooling I would like to start a business which could help me in the future.’
Previous indecent assault accusation
After Woods’ crimes were revealed, questions arose as to why he was even permitted to work with or near children. He was known to police after he was accused of an indecent assault on an eight-year-old girl he met while volunteering for Diabetes UK in 2000.
The first known contact Woods’ had with children in Africa was in 2001 when he frequently visited an orphanage in the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi. It was also reported that he was on of twenty BA crew members to volunteer to spend Easter with the children at the orphanage, bringing medicine and donations as well as gifts.
After this he would often choose routes into East Africa that were not used regularly by other pilots, using his stopovers as an opportunity to abuse vulnerable children that lived in poor areas.
In a statement, BA said:
‘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.’
Sexual Abuse Claims – Expert Advice
Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).
For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email [email protected]
You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.
Source: Daily Mail