UK & World News
BA Pilot Simon Wood 'Abused' African Orphans
A British Airways pilot is alleged to have used his position to sexually abuse scores of children in African schools and orphanages.
First Officer Simon Wood, 54, was due to appear in court last Friday on separate child abuse cases in the UK, but was found dead on August 18 after being hit by a train.
Allegations of further abuse abroad emerged after the BA received an anonymous letter in July.
The pilot is alleged to have molested youngsters during stopovers in Kenya under the guise of charity work for the airline.
BA contacted Scotland Yard after the airline's own investigation into a trip to Kenya by Wood revealed "cause for concern".
"We would be absolutely appalled if it transpired that an employee of ours had been cynically using this charitable work as a cover for exploitation of children he was trusted to help," BA said in a statement.
The airline now faces legal action from lawyers representing the alleged victims in Kenya.
Martyn Day, from legal firm Leigh Day, said investigations made it "horrifically clear" that Wood had access to "hundreds of vulnerable children" over many years.
The firm is investigating how Wood was given access to the Kenyan children, as well as the extent of his alleged abuse in the UK, which it claims is much higher.
"It is believed the number of those who may have been abused may be far greater both in Kenya and the UK," the firm said.
Wood, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, faced charges in the UK of indecent assault of a girl under 16, making indecent photographs of a child and possessing indecent images of a child, according to Scotland Yard.
He visited Kenya in Easter 2002, along with 20 other BA crew members, and spent the holiday period with children from orphanages.
Wood told the Press Association, who covered the trip at the time: "We play, sing, organise activities and generally entertain them. We become very close to the children."
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We continue to pursue a number of inquiries. However, the police response will now be proportionate given Mr Wood's death."
An inquest into Wood's death was opened and adjourned at Hertfordshire Coroner's Court last Wednesday.