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Banker issues ‘sincere apology’ for British Airways business class rampage

PA
By
Tristan KirkCourts Correspondent
@kirkkorner
14 January 2022
A

n investment banker who “went berserk” on a British Airways flight has issued an apology to cabin crew who were hurt as he ran amok on a flight while under the influence of sleeping tablets.

William Clegg, 33, threw one staff member to the ground, aimed headbutts at a female flight attendant, and threw crisps and chocolate bars at fellow passengers on the flight from San Jose in California to the UK.

When an intervention from the captain did nothing to stop Mr Clegg running amok in the business class cabin, crew members eventually had to put him in leg restraints and handcuffs.

The merchant banker, who flies regularly around the world to meet clients, denied assaulting five members of staff, and said he had no memory of the outburst which he blamed on an adverse reaction to new insomnia medication.

Mr Clegg, from Notting Hill, was cleared by a jury at Isleworth crown court after just 55 minutes of deliberations.

“I am extremely relieved at the verdict and would like to thank my legal team Trevor Burke QC and Simons Muirhead Burton solicitors”, he said in a statement after the acquittals.

“I would like to sincerely apologise to the BA crew involved in the incident. My actions were totally out of character, and as the jury, found the result of prescription drugs.

“I would urge the CPS to review their handling of similar cases going forward. The medical evidence on which my defence relied was available over two years ago and accepting it then would have avoided the substantial waste of prosecution costs."

The court heard Mr Clegg’s banking career has been “put on hold” and he has been unable to work while he waited two-and-a-half years for a criminal trial which was repeatedly delayed as a result of the pandemic and court backlogs.

The incident happened on August 25, 2019, when Mr Clegg settled down to sleep on the nine hour flight across the Atlantic.

The court heard he suffered nocturnal epilepsy as a child, which has left him with insomnia into his adulthood.

Mr Clegg had three glasses of wine and two Baileys and had taken two sleeping tablets – prescribed to him during his stay in the US – in a bid to get to sleep.

“His behaviour was truly obnoxious for about three hours, disturbing cabin crew, waking up everyone in business class, throwing food around, climbing over seats, and wanting to exit the plane in mid-air to go and party”, said Mr Burke.

Service manager Jamie March said Mr Clegg claimed he “wanted to go and party” and he feared the passenger would try to open the plane door at 38,000ft.

“I feared for the safety of the aircraft at that point”, he said.

During efforts to restrain him, Mr Clegg, a Bristol University economics graduate, assaulted the staff and shouted “do you know who I am?”.

Giving evidence, he pointed to the Ambien sleeping tablets he had taken, saying: “If somebody told me – or had I read the leaflet – and it said there was a one in a million chance of this happening, I would not have taken the pills.”

Mr Clegg, of Notting Hill, west London, denied and was found not guilty of five counts of assault by beating.