Married father-of-two Martyn Vaughan, 61, was flying First Class from Heathrow with British Airways and was arrested when he landed in South Africa.
But sources say he was wrongly charged with common assault, which allowed Vaughan, from Northamptonshire, to take a £13 'admission if guilt' fine and walk free.
And the arresting officer at Cape Town International Airport is said to have suddenly taken leave as police launched their investigation, assisted by British Airways.
A source told The Sun: 'No-one can find her. People in the commissioner's office are running around like blue-a***d flies trying to sort this out. It was a mistake.'
It was alleged that, after a few drinks, the father-of-two pushed the handset under the attendant’s uniform as she leaned over to serve another passenger.
Fellow passengers claim Mr Vaughan lit up his £6,000 First Class suite with the phone’s torch app before committing the assault.
Mr Vaughan, believed to be the MD of manufacturing consultancy firm Bradden Associates, was detained when the Flight BA0057 landed in South Africa.
In-flight staff including the captain were alerted and radioed ahead to police, who met the Airbus A380 jet on touchdown and armed officers arrested him in his seat.
He was banned from British Airways flights for life after the assault on the 26-year-old stewardess - said to be left 'distressed and devastated'.