Ryanair issues lengthy defence of conduct after passenger’s racist tirade

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

The budget 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 on Friday said 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)

“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.”

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

“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.

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