The woman who was the victim of a racist tirade on a Ryanair flight has rejected an apology from the passenger concerned because he denied being racist.
David Mesher apologised publicly for the first time, in an interview aired on Friday, over his treatment of Delsie Gayle, saying he lost his temper “a bit”.
Footage showed him calling the 77-year-old widow an “ugly black bastard” and telling her “Don’t speak to me in a foreign language, you stupid ugly cow”.
Mr Mesher, who has been spoken to by police in Birmingham, where he lives, apologised for the first time in the interview aired a week after the incident.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the dispute began after he asked Ms Gayle to move from her seat but “she didn’t seem to want to get up”.
“I probably lost my temper a bit and ordered her to get up,” he said, adding that he “absolutely” regrets his behaviour.
“I’m not a racist person my any means and it’s just a fit of temper at the time, I think,” he continued.
“I apologise for all the distress you’ve had there and since.”
But Ms Gayle and her daughter, Carol Gayle, rejected the apology over the language used on the plane from Barcelona to London on October 19.
Asked if she accepts the apology, Delsie Gayle said: “I don’t think so. You must forget and forgive but it’s going to take a long time for me to get over what he has done to me.”
Her daughter added: “He says he wasn’t racist - he wouldn’t be saying words like that if he wasn’t racist.”
They also renewed their criticism of Ryanair, saying they are still yet to hear from the budget airline, branding its statement saying staff had apologised “lies”.
Officers from West Midlands Police assisted Essex Police, who are leading the investigation, by speaking to Mr Mesher in his sheltered accommodation in Yardley Wood on Thursday.
The incident took place on the tarmac of Barcelona Airport before the plane departed for Stansted, so UK police have said officers will pass the investigation to Spanish authorities.
Essex Police said: “There are agreed national protocols to follow when incidents are reported to have happened in another country. As such, we will be conducting an investigation to submit to the Spanish authorities in due course.”
Delsie Gayle has spoken about how “depressed” she felt about the tirade, adding: “I haven’t done anything to attack him, it’s because of the colour of my skin I was abused like that.”