LONDON, July 30 Girls and young women who allege
they were sexually abused by a British Airways (BA)
pilot in African schools and orphanages plan to sue the airline,
a law firm representing them said on Wednesday.
Lawyers argue that BA should be held responsible for the
actions of First Officer Simon Wood who carried out the alleged
crimes during stopovers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Wood, 54, was found dead after being hit by a train in
August 2013, two weeks before he was due in court on charges of
indecent assault and making indecent photos of a child.
"We allege that Wood was able to abuse the victims, by
reason of his employment with the airline, in particular through
his involvement with the airlines' community relations work,"
said Nichola Marshall, a lawyer at Leigh Day which is
representing 16 alleged victims aged from eight to 20.
"The schools and orphanages that our clients attended were
all in receipt of charitable donations from the airline, and
Wood played a key role in administering those donations, on
behalf of British Airways."
A team from the law firm would meet with other possible
victims in Kenya and Uganda in the coming weeks, she said.
"We were shocked and horrified to hear the allegations
against Simon Wood, which appear to relate to his involvement in
child-related activities entirely outside the scope of his
employment with British Airways," BA said in a statement.
The case will be heard in a London court.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Louise Ireland)