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Ryanair says it didn't report racist abuse incident to police until after video went viral

An investigation is under way following a racist verbal attack on a Ryanair flight on Friday.
Oct 26th 2018, 10:26 AM 16,152 41

RYANAIR HAS CONFIRMED that it did not report the incident in which a passenger racially abusing another passenger on a flight until two days after it occurred. 

On a flight from Barcelona to Stansted last Friday, retired care assistant Delsie Gayle was called an “ugly black bastard” by a fellow passenger.

Video footage of the incident shows a man shouting at Gayle to demand that she move seats while her daughter tells him that she is disabled.

In a statement this morning, Ryanair said it only became aware of the contents of the video late on Saturday evening when it “gained widespread coverage on social media”. 

“Ryanair immediately reported this video, and the racist abuse, to the Essex Police in Stansted Airport on Sunday 21 October. We provided the police with a copy of the video, and relevant details of the two passengers involved,” it said in a statement posted on its social media. 

“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.” 

Essex Police confirmed on Tuesday that information has now been passed to Spanish authorities, who are leading the investigation. 

The incident

In the video, a man can be seen and heard telling a black woman that she is an “ugly black bastard”. 

In response to something said back by the woman, he says: “Don’t talk to me in a fucking foreign language, you stupid, ugly cow.” The video appears to show the man refusing to allow the woman to sit next to him, saying that if she doesn’t go to another seat he would “push her”. 

A number of passengers intervene, with one heard asking for the man to be removed from the flight.  A cabin crew attendant also urges the man to calm down at one point. The video ends with the woman saying she’d like to sit next to her daughter who is in another row.

In its statement today, the airline said that it’s Spanish cabin crew “were aware of an argument between these two passengers during the boarding process, but were not aware of, as they were not present when, racist comments that were made by the male passenger towards the female passenger”. 

While the events were videoed by another passenger, Ryanair said this video was not shown to cabin crew until after landing in London Stansted. 

As noted above, Ryanair said it “did not become aware of the contents of the video until late on Saturday evening when it gained widespread coverage on social media”. 

It said: “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.

“After moving the female passenger, both passengers were asked if they were ok, 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. 

Ryanair confirmed that the captain “was not informed of any argument between the two passengers, and nor were airport security in Barcelona alert, because as far as the cabin crew were concerned, the verbal argument had been defused”. 

Apology

While Ryanair has faced extensive criticism for not intervening to stop the abuse, Gayle said on Monday that she has not been contacted by the airline.

However, in its statement today, Ryanair said that it “immediately wrote, both in email and letter to the female passenger at 11am on Sunday morning, apologising sincerely for what happened on board the aircraft”. 

It said it also invited the passenger to contact the airline if they wished to discuss the matter further. 

“The claim made in the media in recent days, that Ryanair did not contact or apologise to the female passenger, is untrue,” Ryanair said. 

Ryanair head of communications Robin Kiely added: “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.” 

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Hayley Halpin

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