Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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Government could have averted BA hostage crisis but failed to pass on message that Kuwait had been invaded

BA 149 from London to Kuala Lumpur landed in Kuwait in the early hours of August 2 1990, as Iraqi forces overran the country. The aircraft was refused permission to leave and more than 300 passengers and crew were taken hostage by the Iraqi military.

The hostages were imprisoned at various sites around Iraq and Kuwait, where they were used as human shields. The last of the hostages were released five months later, in December 1990.

Mr Manners added: “I live in the real world, I’m not a snowflake – if they pulled us into a room and said: ‘Terribly sorry, we had to do it, have a year off paying income tax and here’s a gold card for British Airways, keep your gob shut’, I would say ‘fair enough’.

“But when people lie to me, then I get upset. So, no, I don’t accept the apology. It’s a fudge.

“Who on earth were they, then? Members of a rugby team? I know they were soldiers.”

In August this year, Anthony Paice, a British official at the embassy in Kuwait at the time, told the BBC he was convinced “military intelligence exploitation of British Airways flight 149 did take place, despite repeated official denials.”

Clive Earthy, the BA cabin services director on the flight, also told the BBC that a member of the cabin crew had claimed that the flight was met by a man in British military uniform who escorted 10 men who had boarded the flight late at Heathrow off the aircraft.

The men were rumoured to be undercover SAS soldiers flown into Kuwait to send back reports of Iraqi troop movement and call in fighter strikes.

A British Airways spokesman said: “Our hearts go out to all those caught up in this shocking act of war just over 30 years ago and who had to endure a truly horrendous experience. These records confirm British Airways was not warned about the invasion.”

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