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British Airways

Hostages of 1990 British Airways Flight Begin Legal Action Against UK Government and Airline

London, July 01, 2024, The Europe Today: Hostages from a British Airways flight that refueled in Kuwait en route to Kuala Lumpur in 1990 have initiated legal proceedings against the UK government and the airline, a British law firm confirmed on Monday.

The passengers and crew members of BA flight 149 were forcibly removed from the plane when it landed in Kuwait just hours after Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi troops to invade the Gulf state on August 2, 1990. Following their disembarkation, the plane was destroyed on the runway. Many of the 367 passengers and crew spent more than four months in captivity, being used as human shields by Iraq’s then-president to deter Western attacks during the first of two Gulf wars.

Ninety-four of the passengers and crew have filed a civil claim at the High Court in London, targeting the UK government and British Airways. They accuse the parties of “deliberately endangering” civilians, according to law firm McCue Jury & Partners. “All of the claimants suffered severe physical and psychiatric harm during their ordeal, the consequences of which are still felt today,” the firm stated.

The legal action alleges that the British government and BA “knew the invasion had started” but allowed the flight to stop in Kuwait regardless. The claim suggests that the flight was used to “insert a covert special ops team into occupied Kuwait.” Barry Manners, one of the passengers on the flight, remarked, “We were not treated as citizens but as expendable pawns for commercial and political gain.” He further stated, “A victory over years of cover-up and bare-faced denial will help restore trust in our political and judicial process.”

Files released in November 2021 revealed that the UK ambassador to Kuwait had informed then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government about reports of an Iraqi invasion before BA flight 149 landed, but the message was not relayed to BA. There have also been claims, denied by the British government, that London put those on board at risk by using the flight to deploy undercover operatives and delayed take-off to allow them to board. BA has firmly denied accusations of negligence, conspiracy, and a cover-up.