LONDON (AFP) - British Airways has reached an undisclosed settlement with dozens of African children over alleged sexual abuse by one of its pilots, lawyers said on Friday.
First Officer Simon Wood, 54, threw himself under a train at a station north of London in 2013, days before he was due in court to face charges of molesting children in schools and orphanages.
Law firm Leigh Day, which was acting on behalf of the 38 children and young adults from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, claimed BA was liable as Wood was carrying out charity work on behalf of the airline when he is alleged to have carried out his crimes.
"We allege that British Airways had a duty of care toward these children in the schools and orphanages, that Wood was involved in through the airline's charitable work," said Nichola Marshall from Leigh Day's international claims team.
"We are looking into the allegations that BA were told on two occasions that one of their pilots could be a danger to children but continued to allow and even encourage him to volunteer in projects they supported."
BA issued a statement calling the allegations "shocking and horrifying".
"Though we do not bear any legal responsibility for Simon Wood's actions, we recognise the impact they had on his victims and the distress and suffering they caused," it said.
"This recognition is reflected in the agreement we have made with the victims' representatives."
Police officers first approached Wood in a car park at Heathrow Airport on July 19, 2013.
He was charged with indecently assaulting a girl under 16, of taking indecent photographs of a child and of possessing indecent images of a child.
"As a result of things discussed in that conversation about activity in Kenya and potentially things seen on his computer, he was arrested," said Scotland Yard's Simon Giles.