UK police identify man in Ryanair racist rant – but charges unlikely ‘due to airline’s failure to act’
- Ryanair did not remove the passenger before take-off in Barcelona, making it harder for the case to be pursued in Spain
- The man was filmed abusing a 77-year-old woman, calling her an ‘ugly black bastard’
British police say they have identified a man filmed racially abusing an elderly black woman on a Ryanair flight.
The woman, Delsie Gayle, 77, said she had been left stunned and depressed after a man shouted at her to move seats as they boarded a plane last Friday.
In footage shared on social media, Gayle’s daughter tries to stand up to the man and tells him her mother is disabled. The man says he does not care “whether she’s f***ing disabled or not. If I tell her to get out, she gets out”.
Essex police said they had identified both parties in the incident and passed the information to the Spanish authorities, who were leading an investigation.
In the footage, the man calls Gayle an “ugly black bastard” and shouts: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.” Gayle, who is of Jamaican origin, was speaking English.
The incident took place on a Ryanair plane before it left Barcelona for London Stansted.
The UK shadow transport minister, Karl Turner, said it was possible no charges would be brought because of Ryanair’s failure to immediately remove the man from the flight and hand him over to the Spanish authorities.
“Ryanair failed spectacularly, not least because they removed the victim and allowed the alleged offender to remain in his seat, but because they didn’t deplane him and hand him over to the Spanish authorities there is now a legal jurisdiction issue,” he said.
“He could well be prosecuted by the Spanish authorities but it is unlikely. Why? Because the offender would have to hand himself in or alternatively Spanish apply under EU arrest warrant. Under the EU arrest warrant the offence needs to be criminal in Spain – it is – and the punishment on conviction must be 12 months or more. I’m not an expert on Spanish criminal law, so I’m not sure about sentencing laws there.”
In an interview with ITV News, Gayle, from East London, said the incident had left her feeling very low. “He pays his fare, I pay mine. So why did he abuse me for that? Because of the colour of my skin … If I had done that to him, I’m sure they would have called the police,” she said.
Ryanair did not remove the man from the flight, instead having Gayle change seats.
Gayle said it had put her off flying with the airline. “I feel really depressed about it. I go to bed and say ‘what have I done?’,” she said.
Her daughter, Carol, 53, criticised Ryanair’s response and said her mother had not yet received an apology from the airline. “He should have been moved or taken off the plane and nothing was done … Nobody has apologised. We’ve not had nothing. We just want an open apology from Ryanair,” she said.
The argument is believed to have started because Gayle, who was returning from a holiday designed to cheer her up on the first anniversary of her husband’s death, has arthritis and took some time to move out of the way so the man could be seated.
The British transport secretary, Chris Grayling, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he hoped “police would want to take action in such an extraordinarily unacceptable case”.
Ryanair tweeted on Sunday that it could not comment further because the incident was now a police matter.