The front page headline of this morning’s edition of the London commuter freesheet Metro is BA sued over pervert pilot – the kind of headline we have grown used to over the past couple of years.
Simon Wood was a British Airways pilot, now deceased; there are claims that he assaulted up to fifty women and children, some as young as eight, in Africa.
Video: Simon Wood, the airline pilot who has been accused of indecently assaulting underage girls in Africa.
The airline has charitable interests on the Dark Continent, and Wood was heavily involved in these, that much is certain. It has been claimed that he molested youngsters on stopover visits in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. His activities there (alleged) are said to date from 2002.
So who are these victims? It is not clear, but because First Officer Wood was employed by BA and just as importantly because he is dead, a class action case has been started against the airline. The ambulance-chasing law firm Leigh Day is so concerned for the welfare of these as yet and always to be unidentified women and girls that it is sending “a team of staff to Africa to recruit more alleged victims to join the case”. Yes, a team.
What does BA have to say about this? Well, according to the Metro article, the company is “shocked and horrified” by the allegations – how could it be anything but? – which were “entirely outside the scope of his employment”.
Clearly they were, airlines employ pilots to fly planes, not to grope orphans. So what is the substance to these claims? In August last year, Simon Wood was struck by a train near Potters Bar; he is believed to have committed suicide.
Wood was arrested over an allegation of indecent assault as far back as November 2001, but it was ruled there was “insufficient evidence” to bring charges. In view of the convictions of first Max Clifford and then Rolf Harris one might ask how could this have been so, because these two cases have demonstrated that no amount of evidence is insufficient to convict much less to charge with allegations of this nature.
At the time of his death, Wood was facing trial at Southwark Crown Court for 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.
As an indecent image of a child can mean virtually anything, we can only say for certain that there was one offence that involved a real victim. While in view of the nature of these sort of (alleged) offenders it is reasonable for the police to assume there may have been more victims and to investigate accordingly, what Leigh Day is doing is something else entirely.
Here’s how it goes: Hello girls, I am a lawyer, I have come here from the UK to find victims of a nasty man who is believed to have done things he shouldn’t have to underage girls in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. There have been no complaints from the Nyumbani Children’s Home, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t molest any girls here. If you or any of your friends were molested by him or think you may have been at any time since 2002, do tell us in the strictest confidence. You may be entitled to COMPENSATION.
Yes, he did target girls, but he MAY have abused boys too. Do you think you may have been abused by him? Sign here for our no-win no-fee service.
While that is undoubtedly a profitable way to run a law firm, would any reasonable person claim it is a sensible way to run a criminal investigation? It is quite likely there will be dozens or hundreds of claims. If the word gets out, there could be thousands. This is what happened with the Savile investigation, Operation Yewtree, and it is what happened with both Clifford and Harris.
Where criminal charges are to be preferrred, if a hundred “victims” come forward, the CPS can skim through them, throw out the ludicrous ones, and present 5 or 10 examples which are “strikingly similar” and appear to show a pattern. As there are only so many ways to stroke a woman’s breast or touch a child’s leg, for an unwary jury this is an open and shut case. For how much longer is this foolishness to continue?
[The above article was published originally on July 30, 2014 with the video linked above].
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