- Dec 28, 2005
- Total Time
Scots BA pilot abused after exposing 'canteen culture of racism’
A British Airways captain was abused by fellow pilots after exposing a 'canteen culture of racism’ at the airline, a tribunal has heard.
By Chris Irvine
Published: 7:00AM BST 12 Jun 2009
Douglas Maughan, 54, alleges he was victimised, after appearing in a newspaper article discussing the “casual racism’ within the airline.
In the piece he claimed other pilots spoke disparagingly about blacks and Asians, with one referring Saudi Arabian passengers on one flight as “rag-heads”.
Captain Maughan, whose wife is Asian, said he took offence at the comments and the “institutional racism” pilots are allowed to get away with.
He claims he regularly tried to notify senior management of the abuse, but was told it was a private matter between two individuals.
At one point he even complained to Willie Walsh, the chief executive, but nothing was done to stop it, he told the Watford tribunal yesterday.
Thursday's employment tribunal heard a senior pilot had made a racist joke about the actor and American footballer OJ Simpson in a formal presentation.
In the newspaper article, Captain Maughan said just before a flight to Los Angeles, with a large party of Saudi Arabians on board, his Captain "suddenly embarked on an extraordinary rant about 'ragheads'."
"He got the word out twice before I stopped him by explaining he was going to be short of a first officer for the return sector if he carried on," Captain Maughan claim.
Speaking at the tribunal Captain Maughan claims he was met with a torrent of abusive phone calls and messages from colleagues.
Captain Maughan said of the “quite vociferous” response: “An anonymous caller phoned me in my hotel room in Singapore at 2.27am local time and said 'you stupid ------- ----. It’s a good job it’s a nine day trip because we are coming round to your house’.
“The caller was almost certainly a BA pilot colleague - he had access to my roster and knew which hotel I would be in.”
He also claims he was deliberately marked down by a pilot trainer, a few weeks later, in retaliation for the article.
Captain Maughan is suing the airline claiming victimisation on racial grounds. Three related claims were dismissed at a hearing earlier this year and he was ordered to pay BA £4,400 in costs, although he has appealed.
He said he had complained about racism at the airline in a string of incidents dating back to 1995.
Giving evidence, Captain Maughan, who stood as a Labour candidate for Scottish parliament in 2007, said he had received hate mail after writing in the staff magazine, BA News, in 2005, defending the Labour government’s economic record.
Captain Maughan claimed he received an abusive letter from an anonymous author, believed to be a BA pilot, saying: “Come separation, will all jocks ---- off to that welfare state paid for by English middle classes??? Please say yes.”
Captain Maughan, who lives in Edinburgh, has 29 years flying experience, including 16 at BA, and currently flies Boeing 777 long-haul flights.
British Airways are defending the claim vigorously.
“We have the most diverse workforce of any UK-based airline, with around 4,000 of our UK staff from ethnic minorities,” spokesman said.
“All British Airways employees must adhere to our policies concerning dignity at work.
“These policies encourage employees to report incidents where they believe racism, sexism or any other type of offensive or inappropriate behaviour has occurred.
“Any reports made by staff about racist behaviour are taken extremely seriously and investigated as a matter of priority.”
The case continues.