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UK Government and British Airways Face Lawsuit Over 1990 Kuwait Hostage Crisis

McCue Jury & Partners, the law firm representing them, stated that all claimants experienced severe physical and psychological trauma, the effects of which persist.

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 1, 2024, 13:02:22

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british airways face lawsuit over kuwait hostage crisis

Passengers and crew of a British Airways flight taken hostage in Kuwait in 1990 have initiated legal proceedings against the UK government and the airline, as announced by a law firm on Monday.

The incident involved BA flight 149, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur and landed in Kuwait on August 2, 1990, just hours after Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein invaded the country.

The 367 passengers and crew members were subsequently held captive for over four months, with some being used as human shields during the Gulf War.

A total of 94 former hostages have filed a civil lawsuit in the High Court in London, accusing the UK government and British Airways of "deliberately endangering" them. McCue Jury & Partners, the law firm representing them, stated that all claimants experienced severe physical and psychological trauma, the effects of which persist.

The lawsuit alleges that the UK government and British Airways were aware of the invasion before allowing the flight to land. It claims the flight was used to "insert a covert special ops team into occupied Kuwait."

Barry Manners, a claimant who was on the flight, stated, "We were not treated as citizens but as expendable pawns for commercial and political gain." He hopes the lawsuit will help restore trust in the political and judicial system after years of alleged cover-up and denial.

Documents released by the British government in November 2021 indicated that the UK ambassador to Kuwait had informed London of the Iraqi invasion before the flight landed, but this information was not relayed to British Airways.

There have been further allegations that the UK government knowingly endangered passengers by using the flight to deploy undercover operatives and delaying its take-off to facilitate this. The government has denied these claims and declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings.

British Airways has consistently denied allegations of negligence, conspiracy, and cover-up. The airline did not respond to a request for comment from AFP but previously stated that the records released in 2021 confirmed they were not warned about the invasion.

McCue Jury & Partners had announced in September their intention to file the lawsuit, suggesting that the hostages might seek an estimated average of £170,000 ($213,000) each in damages.

In 2003, a French court ordered British Airways to pay 1.67 million euros to French hostages from the flight, citing a "serious failure" in their obligations by landing the plane.

The airline did not respond to AFP's request for comment but stated last year that records released in 2021 "confirmed British Airways was not warned about the invasion."

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