Thursday 15 November 2018

Man who filmed racist rant on Ryanair flight does not regret it: 'Visual is important'

Abusive rant: A still from a video shows the man involved in the incident. Photo: David Lawrence/PA
Abusive rant: A still from a video shows the man involved in the incident. Photo: David Lawrence/PA

Tom Horton

A man who filmed a racist incident on a Ryanair flight said he chose not to intervene so he could publicise what happened.

David Lawrence, who filmed a man subjecting a woman to a tirade of racist abuse, said that in the age of social media "visual is important" and "now the world knows" what happened.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I had to make a difficult decision at that time because if I had stepped in I don't think you would have seen the footage that I captured."

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman declined to comment on the specific case, but told reporters: "When people are travelling and going about their public life, no-one should be subjected to intimidation or any form of abuse.

"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."

The video, recorded on October 19 on flight FR015 from Barcelona to London Stansted before the plane had taken off, shows a man shouting at a woman telling her to move seats while her daughter tries to stand up to him, telling him her mother is disabled.

He said: "I don't care whether she's f****** disabled or not - if I tell her to get out she gets out."

In the video the man can be heard calling the elderly woman an "ugly black b******", and shouting "don't talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow".

He was not confronted by any other passengers, Mr Lawrence added.

"In fact, one of the passengers whilst I was filming basically said to me don't you think you're being a bit childish by filming this," he said.

Ally Murphy, a former cabin crew supervisor who also appeared on the radio show, said Mr Lawrence made the right call in deciding to film the incident.

"It is great that David did film that," she said. "This happens every day in the community and people need to step forward and say this isn't right."

"But as a cabin crew member it is not great when people pile in and try to take things into their own hands," she added.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, a spokesman for Ryanair said: "We have reported this to the police in Essex and as this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further."

A spokeswoman for Essex police said on Sunday: "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."

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