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‘I’m not a racist by any means’

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The Ryanair passenger who was filmed racially abusing an elderly black woman has said he is “not a racist person by any means”.

David Mesher, who called 77-year-old disabled widow Delsie Gayle an “ugly black b******”, said his remarks were “just a fit of temper at the time”.

Ryanair was widely criticised on social media after a video of the row on Friday 19 October was shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook.

Mr Mesher, who didn’t want to sit next to Mrs Gayle on the flight from Barcelona to Stansted, said at one point: “I don’t care whether she’s f****** disabled or not – if I tell her to get out she gets out.”

He said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday: “I’m not a racist person by any means, and it’s just a fit of temper at the time I think.”

David Mesher
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David Mesher has claimed he is not racist

Mr Mesher, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Birmingham, added in a message to Mrs Gayle: “Well, I apologise for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”

Ryanair cabin crew seemingly failed to deal with Mr Mesher’s racist outburst in the footage, and it was Mrs Gayle who was later asked to move on the flight.

The budget airline reported the matter to Essex Police only after the video had surfaced and initially said it was unable to comment.

The woman's mother can be seen speaking to the man at the start of the footage. Pic: David Lawrence
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Mrs Gayle’s mother could be seen speaking to the man at the start of the footage. Pic: David Lawrence

But after Mr Mesher’s television interview on Friday, the airline said in a statement that it had only become aware of the video late on 20 October – the day after the incident – and “immediately” reported it to police the following morning.

“We provided the police with a copy of the video, and relevant details of the two passengers involved,” it said.

“These prompt actions disprove the false claims that Ryanair did not respond ‘quickly’ or ‘appropriately’ to this video.”

David Lawrence has criticised fellow passengers for failing to help the woman
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David Lawrence filmed the racist abuse

Their statement adds: “Ryanair’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 were made by the male passenger towards the female passenger.

“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.”

A cabin crew member can not be seen when Mr Mesher uses racist language, but a male flight attendant is present in the video before and after.

The footage was filmed by passenger David Lawrence, who criticised the airline over its handling of the racial abuse.

The 55-year-old told Sky News: “Ryanair wasn’t around.

“Eventually someone came down and moved the woman from her seat and placed her further back, leaving the man sitting by himself.

“That’s the worst (thing about it). It was a no-brainer – he should have been moved. He should have been taken off the flight all together, he should have been arrested.

“Nothing was done.”

Essex Police said on Tuesday: “We have worked to identify both parties involved in this incident and passed this information to the Spanish authorities, who are leading on this investigation.

“Our officers will continue to provide assistance where necessary throughout the course of this case.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman condemned the “abhorrent” abuse in the video, and added: “When people are travelling and going about their public life, no-one should be subjected to intimidation or any form of abuse.”

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