British Airways will compensate 38 Kenyan children and young adults who were sexually abused by its pilot between 2001 and 2013.
A law firm representing the victims confirmed that the British airline had agreed on a settlement despite denying liability for its pilot’s transgressions.
The settlement will ensure all those abused by First Officer Simon Wood will now be compensated.
The pilot committed suicide in 2013, after he was charged in the UK with indecent assault and possession of indecent photographs of a child.
“Wood abused children and young women when they were aged between four and 18 in schools and orphanages during stopovers in Kenya and Uganda between 2001 and 2013 while flying for British Airways,” says a statement from the law firm, Leigh Day.
The case was centred on whether BA could be held liable for the actions of its pilot and whether it had a duty to care for the children abused in the countries Mr Wood visited.
Ms 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 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,” she added.
She said it was sad that more and more of such cases involving British child abusers were being reported.
The law firm quoted one of the victims saying: “The money will help in my school fees because it has been a problem for me. When I finish school, I would like to start a business which could help me in the future.”
It quotes another victim, a young woman, saying: “I am happy to know that the case is about to end and it has helped me a lot to know that I will move on without thinking about it.”
Mr Wood committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a moving train on August 18, 2013, days before he was due to appear at London’s Southwark Crown Court on August 30.
Lawyers representing the young girls and women had argued that BA bears responsibility because the pilot committed the alleged offences during stopovers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.