British Airlines is to be sued over allegations one of its pilot sexually allegedly abused girls at schools and orphanages in Africa.

First Officer Simon Wood, 54, is accused of molesting children as young as eight while on stopover in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Wood, from Hertfordshire, died in August 2013 after being hit by a train before he was due to appear at court charged with one count of indecent assault of a girl under 16, two counts of making indecent photographs of a child and one count of possessing indecent images of a child.

Lawyers representing 16 alleged victims are now suing the airline as they believe it should bear responsibility for Wood's alleged actions.

Nichola Marshall, from law firm Leigh Day, 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.

"Our team will be travelling overseas over the coming weeks to meet with other potential victims in Nairobi and Uganda that have come forward more recently."

Wood was first arrested over allegations of indecent assault in 2001, but the case was later dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service due to lack of evidence.

His case was then reconsidered as more similar allegations from over overseas claimants came forward and as well as further evidence of indecent images.

British Airways said they are "shocked and horrified" about the allegations.

A spokesperson added: "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."

The inquest into Wood's death is due to take place at Hertfordshire coroner's court.