Details of the incident in which an elderly black woman was racially abused by a fellow passenger on a Ryanair flight have been passed on to Spanish investigators.
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.”
In the shocking video, captured last Friday by fellow passenger David Lawrence, a man can be heard referring to Mrs Delsie Gayle, a 77-year-old pensioner from east London, as an “ugly black bastard”. He appears to be refusing to sit next to her and threatening to “push” her if she does not sit elsewhere.
The video begins with a row over seating, in which Gayle’s daughter can be seen arguing loudly with the man. Moments later, when the elderly woman speaks with a Jamaican accent, the man replies “don’t talk to me in a fucking foreign language, you stupid, ugly cow.”
Mrs Gayle was returning from a trip to Spain with her daughter Carol Gayle, 53, who told HuffPost UK: “The underlying reason behind the man’s abusive behaviour comes down to the fact that my mum is a black woman and he didn’t want her sitting next to him – he says it in the video.
“This is black history month! My mother has worked her all of her life, paid her taxes and her dues,” her daughter added. “Why should she have to go through all of this?”
The incident has prompted widespread criticism and outrage, with many people questioning why the man was not removed from aircraft and reported to the police.
Under article 7 of Ryanair’s terms and conditions, the airline may refuse carriage if a passenger’s “mental or physical state or attitude, behaviour or demeanour presents a hazard or risk to yourself, to passengers, to crew, or to property.”
On Monday, Theresa May’s spokesman refused to comment explicitly on the incident, but he said the prime minister was “clear” she condemned racial abuse.
“When people are travelling and going about their public life, no-one should be subjected to intimidation or any form of abuse,” he added.
“The prime minister has always been clear that racial abuse is abhorrent.
“In relation to this particular case, there’s obviously an investigation being conducted by Essex Police and it’s right that I don’t comment specifically on that.”
Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau said the city would take legal action as she strongly condemned Ryanair for its immediate response to the incident.
She said Mrs Gayle has the “full support and understanding” of the Spanish city, as she slammed the “racist, shameless man” who she said should have been removed from the plane.
In a lengthy Facebook post, she listed the horrific insults directed at the 77-year-old.
“As the mayor of a feminist city that fights against all forms of discrimination, the images in the video are unbearable to me. So I can’t even imagine how the victim of this aggression felt,” Colau wrote.
“The flight was leaving Barcelona, and Barcelona isn’t going to take this lying down. Above all, I want to express our solidarity with the victim and our repudiation, not just of the racist, shameless, rude man that perpetrated this act of violence and hate, but also of the company for making the women move seats, rather than the person guilty of the verbal attack, who deserved to be removed from the plane and taken straight into a police station.”
In the post that has received at least 10,000 reactions, she added: “As a city we’re going to take this seriously, initiate legal action and present the video as proof.
“Not just so that this racist, hate-filled man is punished, but also to force the company to change its procedures in such cases and support victims rather than aggressors.”
This news comes as it was announced that the budget airline saw a 9% dip in pre-tax profits over the last financial half, brought on by rising fuel costs and compensation payouts for delayed and cancelled flights.
HuffPost UK has contacted Ryanair for comment.