Lawyers for Ryanair flight racism victim demand compensation

Lawyers representing the elderly woman racially abused on a flight have demanded compensation and asked the airline for a "proper" apology.

Ryanair sparked outrage last month when a passenger was filmed hurling verbal abuse at an elderly woman.

Footage recorded on October 19 on flight FR015 from Barcelona to London Stansted showed David Mesher calling 77-year-old Delsie Gayle an "ugly black bastard", and shouting "don't talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow".

He was not removed from the flight and Mrs Gayle moved seats.

David Mesher
David Mesher

Law firm Leigh Day wrote to Ryanair on Monday, asking them to explain their handling of the incident and address a number of questions, including what steps Ryanair is taking to minimise the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future, and what training will now be given to Ryanair crew.

Mrs Gayle said via her lawyers on Monday: "During the incident I felt really frightened. He should have been taken off the plane and yet I was the one who was asked to move. Ryanair's disrespect and lack of any interest at all in my wellbeing makes me feel even worse."

Richard Meeran, head of Leigh Day's international department, said: "Ryanair's response to the vile racist abuse Mrs Gayle was subjected to has been woeful.

"Ryanair needs to take this issue seriously.

"It should apologise properly to Mrs Gayle and compensate her for the distress it has caused her.

"It should take responsibility for the crude mishandling of the incident and explain what action it has taken over this incident and what steps it is taking to minimise the risk of future abuse of its passengers."

Ryanair told the Press Association it had not yet received a letter from Leigh Day, and referred to a statement on October 26 defending its response to the row.

Robin Kiely, Ryanair's head of communications, said at the time: "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 Essex Police, and by apologising in writing to this customer early on Sunday morning (21 Oct), Ryanair treated it with the urgency and seriousness it warranted."