In Depth

Ryanair row: ‘I'm no racist’, says ranting passenger

David Mesher claims it was ‘a fit of temper’ that made him call Delsie Gayle an ‘ugly black b*****d’

The man who unleashed a tirade of abuse against a fellow passenger on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to Stansted has come forward and apologised, claiming he lost his temper. 

Last week, 75-year-old David Mesher was filmed calling his passenger, Delsie Gayle, an “ugly black b*****d” and a “stupid, ugly cow” after a conflict over their seating. Mesher was not removed from his seat, and Gayle instead was moved somewhere else.

The incident was posted to social media, where many criticised the airline for not removing Mesher from the plane, for waiting to report him to the police until the day after the flight and for not apparently apologising immediately to Gayle for their handling of the incident.

Mesher apologised on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, where he said he “probably lost [his] temper a bit and ordered her to get up”, admitting that he regrets his behaviour.

Gayle, an elderly woman from east London, and her daughter Carol told GMB they did not accept his apology. “He says he wasn’t a racist,” said Gayle’s daughter. “He wouldn’t be saying words like that if he wasn’t racist.”

Gayle told The Guardian on Monday that she felt depressed about the incident and had not heard from Ryanair in the days following the flight. “He [does] it with me and he gets away, he’ll do it with somebody else,” she said.

Following Mesher’s apology, Ryanair released an official statement on the incident via Twitter.

“Ryanair immediately reported the video and its racist abuse to the Essex Police in Stansted,” it said. “These prompt actions disprove the false claims that Ryanair did not respond ‘quickly’ or ‘appropriately’ to this video.”

Ryanair also claims the flight attendants were not present during the racist insults during the argument, so they did not understand the severity of the situation. In addition, the airline said it had apologised to Gayle the following morning.

“We again extend our very sincere apologies to this passenger,” said Robin Kiely, Ryanair’s head of communications. “We believe that by reporting this matter immediately to the Essex Policy and by apologising in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning, Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted.”

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