Ryanair defends response after it became aware of passenger’s racist tirade

Ryanair defends response after it became aware of passenger’s racist tirade

Update - 10.30am: Ryanair has made a lengthy defence of its conduct after one of its passengers racially abused an elderly woman on a flight.

The airline said it “immediately” reported the video on Sunday showing the attack on 77-year-old Delsie Gayle after it surfaced on social media.

But the statement added that cabin crew were shown the video after the flight landed at Stansted Airport two days earlier.

The defence came as David Mesher publicly apologised to the widow he called an “ugly black bastard” on the flight before it took off in Barcelona and denied he was a racist.

Ryanair said today it became aware of the video circulating online late on Saturday night before sharing it with Essex Police at 9am the following day.

The incident took place on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London (Peter Byrne/PA)
The incident took place on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London (Peter Byrne/PA)

The airline, saying it was issuing the statement to dispel “false claims” that it did not respond quickly, said the Spanish crew were not aware of the racist comments before take-off.

“While these events were videoed by another passenger on a mobile phone, this video was not shown to cabin crew until after landing in London Stansted,” the statement added.

Ryanair did not immediately respond when asked why cabin crew did not report the incident to police after being shown the footage.

Its defence said crew spoke to both passengers, who told them they were “OK”, and decided to commence with take-off without removing the aggressor after deciding there was no threat to aircraft safety.

Ms Gayle and her daughter, Carol Gayle, have been highly critical of the airline, and said it had not apologised directly.

Ryanair shared with the press images of a letter and an email it said was sent to Delsie Gayle on Sunday morning.

Mr Mesher apologised publicly for the first time, in an interview aired on Friday, after he was captured yelling at the widow and saying: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.”

Officers from West Midlands Police leave a sheltered retirement housing block in Yardley Wood, Birmingham, after speaking to David Mesher (Aaron Chown/PA)
Officers from West Midlands Police leave a sheltered retirement housing block in Yardley Wood, Birmingham, after speaking to David Mesher (Aaron Chown/PA)

The man, who was spoken to by police in Birmingham, where he lives, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the dispute began after he asked Ms Gayle to move from her seat but “she didn’t seem to want to get up”.

“I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up,” he said, adding that he “absolutely” regrets his behaviour and apologises for it.

“I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think,” he continued.

But Ms Gayle said she did not accept the apology over the language used on the plane on October 19.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “You must forget and forgive but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me.”

Ryanair communications chief Robin Kiely apologised again over the “regrettable and unacceptable remarks”.

“We believe that by reporting this matter immediately to Essex Police and by apologising in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted,” he added.

Officers from West Midlands Police assisted Essex Police, who are leading the investigation, by speaking to Mr Mesher in his sheltered accommodation in Yardley Wood on Thursday.

The incident took place on the tarmac of Barcelona Airport before the plane departed for Stansted, so UK police have said officers will pass the investigation to Spanish authorities.

Earlier: Woman rejects apology from Ryanair passenger who launched racist tirade

The woman who was the victim of a racist tirade on a Ryanair flight has rejected an apology from the passenger concerned after he denied being a racist.

David Mesher apologised publicly for the first time, in an interview aired on Friday, over his treatment of Delsie Gayle, saying he lost his temper “a bit”.

Footage showed him calling the 77-year-old widow an “ugly black bastard” and telling her “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow”.

Mr Mesher, who has been spoken to by police in Birmingham, where he lives, apologised for the first time in the interview aired a week after the incident.

The incident took place on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London (Peter Byrne/PA)
The incident took place on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London (Peter Byrne/PA)

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the dispute began after he asked Ms Gayle to move from her seat but “she didn’t seem to want to get up”.

“I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up,” he said, adding that he “absolutely” regrets his behaviour.

“I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think,” he continued.

“I apologise for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”

But Ms Gayle and her daughter, Carol Gayle, rejected the apology over the language used on the plane from Barcelona to London on October 19.

Asked if she accepts the apology, Delsie Gayle said: “I don’t think so. You must forget and forgive but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me.”

Her daughter added: “He says he wasn’t racist – he wouldn’t be saying words like that if he wasn’t racist.”

They also renewed their criticism of Ryanair, saying they are still yet to hear from the budget airline, branding its statement saying staff had apologised “lies”.

Officers from West Midlands Police assisted Essex Police, who are leading the investigation, by speaking to Mr Mesher in his sheltered accommodation in Yardley Wood on Thursday.

The incident took place on the tarmac of Barcelona Airport before the plane departed for Stansted, so UK police have said officers will pass the investigation to Spanish authorities.

Essex Police said: “There are agreed national protocols to follow when incidents are reported to have happened in another country. As such, we will be conducting an investigation to submit to the Spanish authorities in due course.”

Delsie Gayle has spoken about how “depressed” she felt about the tirade, adding: “I haven’t done anything to attack him, it’s because of the colour of my skin I was abused like that.”

In a statement released this morning, Ryanair said the company reported the video and the racist abuse to Essex Police soon after it became aware of the incident.

"We again extend our very sincere apologies to this passenger for the regrettable, and unacceptable remarks that were made to her by an adjacent passenger, and we believe that by reporting this matter immediately to the Essex Police and by apologising in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted.

"We trust that this statement will address the inaccurate media coverage of this incident over recent days, and that the legal rights of both passengers will be respected, while the Police services in Essex and Barcelona conduct their investigation of this matter, with Ryanair’s full cooperation and assistance."

- Press Association

More on this topic

Ryanair dealt fresh blow as top executive joins EasyJetRyanair dealt fresh blow as top executive joins EasyJet

Ryanair rises despite passenger forecast cutRyanair rises despite passenger forecast cut

Ryanair among top 10 least punctual airlines flying out of the UK Ryanair among top 10 least punctual airlines flying out of the UK

Lufthansa slams Ryanair fare policyLufthansa slams Ryanair fare policy

More in this Section

Mini tornado hits village in the UKMini tornado hits village in the UK

Judge orders R Kelly moved to New York for court hearingJudge orders R Kelly moved to New York for court hearing

Hunt ‘extremely concerned’ by seizure of two oil tankers in Persian GulfHunt ‘extremely concerned’ by seizure of two oil tankers in Persian Gulf

Drivers interviewed after cars crash into crowds at UK charity meetDrivers interviewed after cars crash into crowds at UK charity meet


Lifestyle

These handy product edits are so useful for travelling, says Katie Wright.Palettes pack a punch: The travel must have

More From The Irish Examiner