British Airways has paid an undisclosed amount to the families of children who were sexually abused by its pilot Simon Wood during his voluntary work in Africa. Wood had allegedly committed suicide after the case surfaced in August 2013.
Wood, 54, carried out the sexual abuses on girls between the ages of 5-to-13, while he was in Africa for flight stopovers and charity work between 2003 and 2013. According to one of the victim's mothers, Wood would groom the children with gifts before giving them baths.
The sexual abuses took place at hotels, schools and orphanages across Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Woods was charged with one count of possessing indecent pictures of a minor, two counts of producing indecent pictures of minors and one count of indecent assault of a minor.
He was due to appear in court in August 2003, however he died when he was hit by a train 11 days before the court appearance, in what was believed to be a suicide attempt. The families of some of the abused victims had maintained that the airline should bear the legal responsibility, since Wood was employed and engaged in work representing the airline at the time the abuses occurred in Africa.
The lawyer representing the alleged victims, Nichola Marshall, from law firm Leigh Day, had said: "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 airline's community relations work. 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."
Meanwhile, British Airways had expressed its shock over the allegations and a spokesperson for the airline said: "Our sympathies are with the victims and it is disappointing that the conduct of one person has caused so much distress to the many thousands of decent people who engage in charitable works on a regular basis."
Earlier in 2014, a former British Airways pilot, Bartle Frere, 50, was found guilty of committing two sex offences against an underage boy in India. A jury at the Bournemouth Crown Court also found the pilot guilty of six charges of possessing indecent images of a child. Frere who told the court that he found boys "aesthetically pleasing" denied being sexually attracted to them and described himself as an "asexual". He was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register.