The Ryanair passenger who was caught on video berating an elderly woman and calling her an “ugly black bastard’ while boarding a flight from Barcelona to London has apologized and denied he is racist.
In a viral cell phone video captured on the plane by fellow passenger David Lawrence, David Mesher can be seen harassing Delsie Gayle, 77, who was seated one seat away from him in the same row. Mesher began yelling at Gayle, who boarded the flight in a wheelchair, screaming that she was “sickly,” “fat,” and “ugly,” and saying he hoped someone sat in the middle seat between them.
When a Ryanair flight attendant approached and asked Gayle if she wanted to sit elsewhere, Mesher screamed, “Put her to another seat!” before turning to Gayle and adding, “I tell you this. If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll put you to another seat!”
Gayle’s response is inaudible in the video, but Mesher clearly responds with, “Don’t talk to me in a f—ing foreign language, you stupid ugly cow!”
When a fellow passenger attempted to diffuse the situation, telling Mesher to stop speaking to Gayle in that way, he responded by yelling, “I will carry on as long as I can with this ugly black bastard.”
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On Friday, Mesher appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to defend his actions. He told the outlet his tirade was sparked when he had difficulty getting to his seat, which was located at the window, while Gayle was in the aisle seat.
“I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up,” he said. “I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think.
“I apologize for all the distress you’ve had there and since,” Mesher added.
However, Gayle and her daughter, Carol Gayle, who was also on board the flight and attempted to confront Mesher at the time, have said they cannot yet accept his apology.
“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,” Delsie said.
“He says he wasn’t racist,” Carol added. “He wouldn’t be saying words like that if he wasn’t racist.”
Immediately following the incident, there was backlash against Ryanair for their handling of the situation with many wondering why the flight crew didn’t immediately remove Mesher from the flight for his behavior. Labor Party MP David Lammy spoke out about the incident on Twitter.
Ryanair issued a statement on Friday in which it maintains that the crew was unaware of the nature of the incident and were only made aware of the video evidence and the “racist abuse” that had taken place during a “verbal argument between two passengers seated adjacent to each other” after the flight landed.
The release states that upon seeing the video, they immediately reported it to Essex Police in Stansted Airport at 9 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 21.
“These prompt actions disprove the false claims that Ryanair did not respond ‘quickly’ or ‘appropriately’ to this video,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
Although they admitted that the Spanish cabin crew on board the flight were aware the argument had taken place, the airline claims they “were not aware of, as they were not present when, racist comments that were made by the male passenger towards the female passenger.”
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“As the cabin crew believed they were dealing with an argument between two passengers, they followed company procedure, to defuse the argument, and separate the passengers by offering to move one to alternative seating,” the spokesperson said. Both passengers were asked if they were ‘okay,’ and both confirmed that they were. As far as the cabin crew were concerned, that was the end of the matter, and since there was no threat to aircraft safety, the issue of offloading one passenger did not arise.”
Although Delsie and Carol said they were not contacted by the airline in an interview with ITV This Morning, Ryanair provided copies of an email and letter sent to Delsie, which they claim they sent at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning “apologizing sincerely for what happened on board the aircraft and advising her that the matter had been reported to the Essex Police at Stansted Airport.”
“We also invited the passenger to contact the airline if they wished to discuss the matter further,” the spokesperson said. “The claim made in the media in recent days, that Ryanair did not contact or apologise to the female passenger, is untrue.”
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Ryanair Head of Communications Robin Kiely issued an apology for the incident, saying, “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 apologizing in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted.”
He continued, “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.”
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