Scottish pilot sues British Airways for 'canteen culture of racist abuse'

A SENIOR British Airways pilot is suing the airline for racism after he was called "a Jock" and told to go back to his welfare state paid for by the English.

Douglas Maughan, from Dunblane, also claims there is a "canteen culture" of racism in which derogatory racist terms are routinely used.

Mr Maughan, 54, who has 29 years' flying experience, 15 with BA, says he received a letter and e-mails from a pilot he had never met, after he had a letter published in the staff magazine, BA News in 2005, which defended Labour's economic record.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said one of the letters read: "Come separation will all Jocks to that welfare state (paid for by English middle classes)??? Please say yes."

Mr Maughan said he was bringing the claim so that ethnic minority staff in the company felt they were being supported. He said he had heard racist terms used routinely.

He said: "I was shocked because I thought this sort of language had stopped – I had not heard it for years."

Mr Maughan said it was particularly upsetting when a colleague said he did not like Indian women because he thought "they are dirty".

He said: "He did not know my wife is Asian. But there is a canteen culture of racism at BA and, as a captain, I have decided to take a stand against it. Otherwise, how can you expect ethnic minority staff in lower levels of the company to do the same if they feel they are being racially abused?"

He lodged his first complaint after hearing a senior pilot use the word "coon" during a training session on a flight simulator.

He also complained that during a flight to Los Angeles, when there was a large party of Saudis on board, the pilot began "an extraordinary rant" in the cockpit about "ragheads".

Mr Maughan, who captains BA aircraft to all parts of the world, decided to go public with his complaints after struggling to persuade BA's management to take racism among its senior staff seriously.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But an employment tribunal in Watford threw out three of his grievances on a technicality because he had failed to put them in writing to BA and ordered him to pay 4,400 towards the company's legal costs.

The claim that he was victimised racially will be heard at a full tribunal on 11 June.

Mr Maughan said a fellow officer on another flight complained there were too many Asians in Britain.

"The captain turned to me and said, 'I don't suppose there are many of them up your way'. I replied, 'Well, there's my wife'. After that, they had the decency to fall silent."

Mr Maughan said he started receiving personal abuse after he defended Labour's economic record in a letter to BA News. He complained about the abusive e-mails sent to him by a fellow pilot, who is English.

Mr Maughan said: "This one individual hates the Labour Party, hates Gordon Brown and hates the Scots."

Mr Maughan said: "What is common among white flying crew in BA is the use of mildly derogatory, sometimes jokey language about other races. Because it's so common, it's hard to tackle – it's the norm and rarely even noticed."

BA said it would "vigorously defend" the remaining part of his claim. A spokesman said: "Any reports made by staff about racist behaviour are taken extremely seriously and investigated as a matter of priority."