Thirty eight children and young adults will be compensated by British Airways for sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of notorious child abuser and British Airways pilot, Simon Wood.

During British Airways stopovers in Kenya and Uganda between 2001 and 2013, Wood abused children and young women when they were aged between four and eighteen in schools and orphanages. 

ECPAT UK, a leading children’s rights charity campaigning for two decades to stop transnational child sexual abuse and child trafficking, welcomed the decision by British Airways to settle the claim and called on business to strengthen child protection policies to identify and prevent child sexual abuse, child trafficking and modern slavery associated with their operations overseas.

The legal case centred on whether BA could be held vicariously liable for the actions of Wood and whether the airline 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. 

The law firm acting on behalf of the victims have welcomed the decision by BA to settle their legal action. 

Nichola Marshall, head of the international abuse team at Leigh Day, who is acting for the thirty eight 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. 

“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.” 

Responding to the news of the settlement, one of the girls said; 

“The money will help in my school fee 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.” 

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK, said: “The impact of child abuse on children cannot be underestimated and children abused sexually can have a wide range of physical and psychological problems. Without the right support, the effects of childhood abuse can last a lifetime. Compensation is vital to help children rebuild their lives and recover from such abuses. The children in this case have had their childhoods stolen by a vicious predator who exploited his position as a pilot to access vulnerable communities and abuse children. The message from this case is clear: Companies must recognise the impact of their overseas operations on vulnerable children and take steps to prevent child abuse and child trafficking or face financial and reputational repercussions.”