| 20 September 2000
Sacked BA pilot 'mortified' passengers by shouting at woman
By Matt Adams
Passengers on a British Airways jumbo jet were "mortified" when the captain shouted at a woman passenger who claimed a fellow traveller was carrying a bomb, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.
Captain Stuart Clapson stormed out of the cockpit to speak to the woman
after announcing over the public address system that a "stupid woman
had ruined their holidays" by causing the flight to Barbados from
Gatwick to be delayed, the tribunal at Croydon, south London,
The plane was about to take off on 26 October last year when the woman, 59, told cabin staff she was nervous about a passenger sitting near by in the club class section of the jet, which was carrying 400 people. She told the cabin services director, Peter Greenham, that she feared the man was holding a bomb.
When Captain Clapson made a routine check to see if the plane was fit
to take off, Mr Greenham said it was not, and asked that it should return
to its stand where the woman should be taken off. Captain Clapson agreed,
and then made his PA announcement, the
When the aircraft had stopped, Captain Clapson then left the cockpit to speak to the woman. The tribunal heard an interview with the plane's purser, Mandy Gurden-Salter, who said: "He came down, saying, 'Where is she, where is she?' The lady was very shocked. She was crying."
Mr Greenham said that passengers were "mortified" by Captain Clapson's actions, who he felt had "totally over-reacted".
In his own statement, Captain Clapson said he felt the woman had "tried to incite panic among other passengers". He said he was "very firm" but did not over-react. He also denied making the initial PA announcement claimed by cabin staff.
The tribunal was adjourned until today.