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Published on Friday, October 26, 2018

Ryanair issues statement defending itself over racist abuse row

Ryanair issued a statement today defending itself against criticism of its handling of an in-flight incident when a passenger suffered racist abuse.

It said it wanted to clarify the facts to 'prevent any further inaccurate or unfounded media reports' following the emergence of a video last weekend showing the incident on a flight from Barcelona to London Stansted on Friday.

The video, filmed by another passenger, shows a man insulting Delsie Gayle, a 77-year-old black woman who is severely disabled. Gayle is then asked to move to a different seat by cabin crew.

A petition, by human rights campaigner Zita Holbourne, has been signed by more than 300,000 people calling on Ryanair to compensate and apologise to the passenger involved and her family.

Mrs Gayle and her daughter have appeared on television this week claiming they have yet to hear from the airline, but Ryanair insisted today it has contacted Mrs Gayle by letter and email.

The male passenger, David Mesher from Birmingham, appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain today, to apologise and insist he is not a racist, blaming his outburst on a 'fit of temper'.

"I'm not a racist person by any means and it's just a fit of temper at the time, I think," he told the programme.

Ryanair said it had been made aware of the video of the on board incident late on Saturday and had reported it, and the racist abuse, to Essex police at 9am the following morning.

"These prompt actions disprove the false claims that Ryanair did not respond 'quickly' or 'appropriately' to this video. To allow the police investigation to occur, Ryanair declined to comment to media despite the considerable and inaccurate media commentary."

Ryanair said on the Sunday morning it had also written to Gayle, both by email and letter, apologising sincerely for what happened and advising her that the matter had been reported to police.

It also defended the Spanish crew on board, saying they were aware of an argument but were not present when racist comments were made.

"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," said Ryanair's statement.

"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.

"In this case, the female passenger was moved at her request, to a seat adjacent to her daughter who was also travelling on this flight."

Ryanair said after moving the female passenger, 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," said Ryanair.

"The captain was not informed of any argument between the two passengers, and nor were airport security in Barcelona alerted, because as far as the cabin crew were concerned, the verbal argument had been defused."

It added: "Ryanair has a long record of not tolerating disruptive or abusive passenger behaviour, and we have been to the forefront of calling for greater powers and more effective Government follow-up in cases of passenger disruption onboard flights."

Head of communications Robin Kiely said: "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."

A crowdfunding page has raised nearly £1000 to help pay for a holiday for Gayle.

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  • Good work by Cabin Crew.........

    .....defusing the situation which probably would not have occurred if Ryanair didn't force people in the same booking to sit separately (unless they pay extra of course!)

    By Peter Mannell, Saturday, October 27, 2018

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