‘Threatened to poison pilot’

Bryan Benning
Bryan Benning

EASTBOURNE BA employee Bryan Benning was sacked after he threatened to poison a strike-breaking pilot’s food, an employment tribunal heard this week.

The airline strike supporter also posted abusive messages about other BA strike breakers on YouTube, including sinister threats which said he knew ‘car and other details of scabs’.

An employment tribunal panel heard how senior BA officials traced the YouTube messages about last year’s strike back to Mr Benning (pictured) who they intercepted as he was about to board a flight and later sacked.

Mr Benning, who was based at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, is suing British Airways for unfair dismissal.

In his defence, he told the tribunal the strike-breaker Youtube messages were not posted by him but by his brother, although BA said there was no evidence to support this.

Father-of-two Mr Benning was said to have posted the comments to another YouTube writer called Ruthless Interloper, who was later identified as being a BA pilot.

One message said, “We have a whole number of scabs’ details, and car details. By the way, don’t eat anything you are to be served on board. Bring your own food on board. We know everything, we have all your details.”

Trevor Skerritt, BA’s finance manager at Terminal 5, where the strikes took place, told the panel Mr Benning was breaching data protection laws in saying he had details of staff members, and threatening staff members who continued to work during last year’s four day strike over Easter.

Representing Mr Benning, Anya Palmer said he was suffering from a debilitating bout of severe depression and was not acting in the best way during his disciplinary hearings.

Mr Benning also complained of being manhandled off the Terminal 5 premises when he was dismissed.

The tribunal heard that when Mr Benning was questioned about the threats to poison the food, he replied, “Personally I would never want to poison anyone’s food and I wouldn’t condone it, but then again, I can’t speak on behalf of other members of cabin crew.

“The postings had been made through my brother’s laptop and my own computer at the time, at my home, which I had given my brother authority to use.”

Due to ill health, Mr Benning’s disciplinary hearing went ahead without him and he was eventually dismissed on July 29. He appealed twice, but both times was turned down.

The tribunal continues.