Saddam Hussein Gulf War hostages to launch legal action against British Airways and government

British Airways passengers and crew members taken hostage in Kuwait more than 30 years ago are preparing to take legal action against the UK government and the airline, according to a law firm.

McCue Jury and Partners said it is representing victims who want to ensure “the truth is fully disclosed” and “due compensation is paid” for allowing the flight to land.

British Airways Flight 149 touched down at Kuwait International Airport in the early hours of August 2, 1990 as Iraqi armed forces were invading – signaling the start of the Gulf War.

More than 300 people onboard were detained by Iraqi troops, marking the beginning of an ordeal which lasted almost five months as they were used by Saddam Hussein as “human shields” against western attacks.

The UK government insisted the “responsibility” for what happened “lies entirely” with the Iraqi authorities at the time, while BA said it was “not warned about the invasion”.

Documents released in November 2021 showed the Foreign Office was warned by the British ambassador in Kuwait that Iraqi forces had crossed the border an hour before the flight landed.

The information was never passed to BA, which was unable to take action to divert the flight, according to the Foreign Office files released to the National Archives.

There have been claims that a group of around 10 men, who were the first to disembark when the plane landed, were Special Forces troops – but this has always been denied by the UK government.

But McCue Jury and Partners said “evidence exists” that the government and BA “knew the invasion had already begun” when they allowed the plane to land because it was being used to insert a team into Kuwait “for a special military operation”.

The firm is appealing for more passengers and crew members of the flight to join the claim, which it intends to bring to the High Court, in London, in the coming months.

Each of the hostages “may claim an estimated average of £170,000 each in damages”, it added.

Matthew Jury, managing partner of McCue Jury and Partners, said: “The lives and safety of innocent civilians were sacrificed by the British government and British Airways for the sake of an off-the-books military operation.”Both have concealed and denied the truth for more than 30 years.

“The victims and survivors of Flight BA149 deserve justice for being treated as disposable collateral.”

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