Employment tribunal finds ‘no evidence of wrongdoing or misconduct’ by Muslim airline pilot … but says British Airways were entitled to sack him

A Muslim airline pilot sacked after he was linked to two suspected terrorists has lost his case against British Airways.

Samir Jamaluddin, a senior first officer who flew Boeing 747 jets, was arrested by counter terror police in 2007 before he was dropped by the airline three years later. He launched a claim for racial discrimination and unfair dismissal but this was rejected by an employment tribunal which found in favour of BA.

Mr Jamaluddin, who piloted long-haul flights from Heathrow airport, claimed an “air of suspicion” was created around him after he was held on allegations of money laundering, in connection with the Metropolitan Police terror investigation. Officers dropped the case against him in February 2008 owing to insufficient evidence.

Mr Jamaluddin initially remained with BA but the airline suspended his flight crew pass and he was sacked in October 2010, following a security review of his position. The British pilot, born to Indian parents, told a hearing in Havant, Hampshire, that he believed he was targeted because he was Asian and a Muslim.

It was agreed Mr Jamaluddin, who had been an award winning cadet, had an excellent flying record, an unblemished reputation and hoped to be promoted to captain by next year.

While police did not pursue the criminal case against him, BA conducted its own internal investigation, concluding there was a significant security risk if Mr Jamaluddin continued in his role. He was offered the opportunity to find a new position within the company which did not require him to have an airside pass. This proved unsuccessful and his employment was terminated.

The tribunal accepted BA’s decision but expressed sympathy for the pilot’s “plight”. It said:

“The Tribunal had no doubt that for whatever reason, the claimant found himself in an invidious position; as did the respondents. There was no evidence of wrongdoing or misconduct by the claimant, however, his employer had a very proper duty to pursue the matters which ultimately led to his dismissal.

“The withdrawal of the pass and his subsequent dismissal has had a catastrophic effect on the claimant’s flying career, certainly within the UK.

“The tribunal after consideration of all of the facts, whilst being sympathetic to the claimant’s plight, are satisfied that the respondents did not discriminate or act unlawfully.”

Independent, 4 July 2012