BA in-flight headphones may have been manufactured in Chinese prison factory

Qantas has already confirmed that Dongguan prison-linked Airphonics was its main supplier

The headphones that British Airways passengers use to enjoy in-flight entertainment may have been manufactured by a prison factory in China.

A former inmate of Dongguan prison in Southern China told the Australian Financial Review that he made headphones for "the Australian airline Qantas, the one with the kangaroo as its logo," as well as, "for Emirates, British Airways and lots of others".

Another former inmate, Danny Cancian, who served four years for manslaughter, said inmates were "taken outside and tasered" if they failed to meet the factory's production targets.

"It's a very cruel environment," he said. "You wake up every morning wondering if you are going to survive the day."

Dongguan City Joystar Electronic Co, which uses prison labour, said it made 300,000 sets of disposable headphones for Qantas last year to fulfil an order for the Vietnamese company Airphonics.

Qantas confirmed that Airphonics was its main supplier, and has now suspended its dealings with the company pending further investigation.

"Qantas places very strict conditions on suppliers and we conduct regular audits of factories ourselves to ensure those conditions - which include no forced labour - are met," a statement said.

Emirates said there was "no evidence of any unethical practices in the headset manufacturing process".

British Airways said: "Our supplier has made it abundantly clear that it has never used prisons in China to produce any British Airways headphones. We pride ourselves on providing the very best products for our customers."

"All of our suppliers are subject to a rigorous procurement process prior to appointment and we enforce compliance to a robust Labour Standards Policy throughout the duration of the contract. Linstol provide BA's headsets and like all of our thousands of suppliers they must comply with our ethical code of practice."

The company said Linstol had assured them they only use "credited factories", continuing: "When a supplier contract is signed an audit which is internationally recognisable is conducted. The audit monitors supply chains and ensures that the highest standards of procurement are maintained."