A British man who refused to sit next to a black woman on an airplane ― and called her an “ugly black bastard” during a racist rant — has apologized, and said he is not racist.
Shocking video that went viral over the weekend showed David Mesher racially abusing fellow passenger Delsie Gayle, 77, shortly before a Ryanair flight took off from Barcelona for Stansted Airport near London on Oct. 19.
“Don’t talk to me in a foreign language, you stupid, ugly cow,” Mesher, from Birmingham, told Gayle in the clip. “If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll put you in another seat,” he added.
Watch the video, filmed by fellow passenger David Lawrence, here:
Mesher apologized for the incident, which is now being investigated by police in both England and Spain, in a recorded interview aired on Friday’s broadcast of “Good Morning Britain.”
“I’m not a racist person by any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think,” he said. “I apologize for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”
Watch Mesher’s apology here:
Gayle, who was in the “GMB” studio when the clip was aired, said she “didn’t think” she could accept Mesher’s apology. “You can forgive and forget, but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me,” she said.
Ryanair — a budget airline based in Dublin — was widely criticized for not immediately removing Mesher from the flight.
Instead, a male flight attendant asked Gayle if she wanted to move. She initially stood her ground, but following the racist abuse later asked if she could sit with her daughter, Carol.
The airline initially said it could not comment on the incident, citing a police probe. However, on Friday — a week after the flight — the company released a lengthy statement explaining itself:
Ryanair said its flight attendants “were aware of an argument between these two passengers during the boarding process” but were “not present” when the racist comments were made.
“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,” the airline said. “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 ‘okay’, and both confirmed that they were,” the airline continued. “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.”