Police say they have identified a man who was filmed racially abusing an elderly woman on a Ryanair flight.
The woman, Delsie Gayle, 77, said she was 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, and the man says he does not care “whether she’s fucking 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 are leading an investigation.
In the footage, the man appears to call Gayle an “ugly black bastard” and adds: “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow.” The incident is believed to have taken place on #Ryanair flight FR015 at Barcelona airport before it left for London Stansted.
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 apparently did not remove the man from the flight, instead moving Gayle from her seat. Gayle said it had put her off flying with the low-cost airline in the future. “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 claimed they 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 one-year 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 incident was described by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, as “totally unacceptable”. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he hoped “police would want to take action in such an extraordinarily unacceptable case”.
The shadow transport minister, Karl Turner, said Ryanair’s failure to immediately remove the man from the flight and hand him over to the Spanish authorities could result in no charges being brought.