The passenger who launched a racist rant towards an elderly black woman on a Ryanair flight may escape punishment because of aviation laws.
The shocking video of the white passenger abusing the woman on the Barcelona to London flight went viral over the weekend.
He insulted her with racially abusive language, calling her an ‘ugly black bastard’. He also said that he wanted her to move to another seat and that if she didn’t move he would push her.
When she replied to him he said: “Don’t talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow.”
The passenger in the seat behind them had to intervene, first telling the man to stop and then leaning over the seat and using his arms to create a physical barrier between the man and the woman.
Other passengers could be heard telling the flight attendants to kick the man off the plane, but they instead asked the woman if she would prefer to sit somewhere else – which many people see as giving in to the man’s racism and giving him exactly what he had wanted.
The Irish airline was heavily criticised for not only failing to remove the man from the flight, but also trying to diffuse the situation by moving the woman to another seat.
Now a British MP has said that the passenger could get away with his abusive behaviour because the plane had not yet taken off.
Karl Turner said that Ryanair ‘failed spectacularly’ in the way they dealt with the incident.
The Labour MP for Hull East tweeted: “Ryanair failure to deplane the alleged racist offender, handing him over to the Spanish authorities probably means that he isn’t now prosecuted.
“Unfortunately, because Ryanair is registered in Dublin not in the UK the alleged offence could only be tried by UK authorities if it was ‘in flight’ to the UK. Section 92(1) Civil Aviation Act s.92(4) defines ‘in flight’.
“If this incident had happened on an alternative airline under ‘British Control’ or it was already ‘in flight’ to the UK the prosecuting authorities could have prosecuted.”
Ryanair have reported the matter to the police who are looking into it.
A spokeswoman for Essex police said: “This incident, which we were made aware of this morning, is believed to have taken place on a plane at Barcelona Airport.
“Essex Police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported.
“We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation.”
The victim is 77-year-old Mrs Gayle and is part of the Windrush generation who moved to the UK in the 1960s.
Her husband died a year ago and she had been on holiday with her daughter to lift her spirits on the one year anniversary of his death.
She told ITV news: “I am so depressed. I’ve just lost my husband and now I have to go through this.”
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling