A Ryanair passenger who launched a racist tirade may “get away with it” due to the airline wanting to get the plane off the ground, a shadow transport minister said.
The man was filmed by a fellow passenger calling the elderly woman in the seat next to him an “ugly black b*****d”, and shouting “don’t talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow”.
Ryanair sparked outrage after apparently failing to remove the man, with Labour MP for East Hull Karl Turner saying the airline “failed spectacularly”.
The footage was recorded on October 19 on Ryanair flight FR015 from Barcelona to London Stansted by Kent resident David Lawrence, who uploaded it on to social media.
Mr Turner, who is a qualified barrister and was once Labour’s shadow attorney general, tweeted: “Suspect the pressure to turn this aircraft around quickly and get it airborne meant that they have allowed this alleged offender to remain on the aircraft. He may now get away with it.”
He added: “@Ryanair failure to deplane the alleged racist offender, handing him over to the Spanish authorities probably means that he isn’t now prosecuted.”
He added: “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 have happened on an alternative airline under ‘British Control’ or it was already ‘in flight’ to the UK the prosecuting authorities could have prosecuted.”
Footage shows the man shouting at the woman to move seats while her daughter tries to stand up to him, telling him her mother is disabled.
He replies: “I don’t care whether she’s f****** disabled or not - if I tell her to get out she gets out.”
The man then calls her “an ugly f****** c***” and tells staff to move the woman to another seat, adding: “if you don’t go to another seat I’ll push you to another seat”.
Staff on the flight seemed to do little to silence the man during the footage, leaving a passenger in the row behind to try and deal with the situation.
The cabin crew can be heard to say: “Don’t be so rude, you have to calm down” while other passengers call for the man to be thrown off the flight.
The victim can be heard telling the man he stinks and needs a wash, before asking to be moved so she can sit next to her daughter.
The daughter of the woman who was targeted said she believed if a black person had behaved in the same way they would have been thrown off the flight immediately.
The woman, 53, told the Huffington Post the row had started because her 77-year-old mother’s arthritis meant it took her some time to move out of the way so the man could reach the window seat.
The daughter said she had taken her mother, who is a Windrush Generation migrant who came to the UK from Jamaica in the 1960s, on holiday to mark one year since the death of her father.
“My parents were married over 50 years. She’s been feeling really down and depressed, so I thought the trip would raise her spirits.”
She continued: “I know that if I was behaving like he was or any other black person for that matter, police would have been called and we would have been kicked off the flight.”
The woman said that when she had complained to cabin crew they denied hearing any racial slurs and they told her to ring customer services on Monday.
The budget airline tweeted on Sunday that it had seen the footage and reported the incident to Essex police.
It added: “As this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further.”
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.”