A plane passenger who racially abused a 78-year-old woman faces prosecution in Spain after authorities in Britain said they had no power to charge him.
David Mesher, who lives in Birmingham, was filmed calling Delsie Gayle an “ugly black bastard” on a flight from Barcelona to London on October 19 2018.
Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday that criminal proceedings have been launched against him, one day after Essex Police said prosecutors in Britain could not charge him.
Ryanair was also criticised by authorities in Spain after asking Ms Gayle to change seat “instead of prompting the aggressor’s change”, according to an official complaint.
A spokeswoman for Barcelona City Hall, Helena Mercadal, said: “After the incident Barcelona City Hall presented the complaint to the public prosecutor as a hate crime case.
“The public prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings for this case, which means it is being processed. We will now have to wait and see what the public prosecutor says.”
Ms Gayle’s family welcomed the proceedings after previously saying they were “disappointed” by the inability to prosecute Mr Mesher in Britain.
Her daughter, Carol Gayle, told HuffPost UK on Tuesday: “It’s going to take time but we’re happy that this is being taken seriously.”
A complaint about the incident was handed to Barcelona City Hall through the city’s Office for Non-Discrimination on October 25.
“The foregoing constitutes a verbal and coercive aggression with the clear intention of undermining the moral integrity of (Ms Gayle), through the humiliating and degrading treatment caused by racist motives,” it said.
“The special severity of the facts and circumstances of the vulnerability of the victim is remarkable, since she is a woman of advanced age, of reduced mobility, and the aggression took place in a closed space; without any chance to leave, and with publicity to the rest of the travellers.”
The complaint said the decision of flight crew to find another seat for Ms Gayle facilitated “the coercive goal” of Mr Mesher.
“Also, the company’s action has been to change the seat of the victim of the aggression, instead of prompting the aggressor’s change or, if he’d refuse to do so, to bring up the facts to the police,” it added.
Mr Mesher gave an interview to ITV’s Good Morning Britain after the incident apologising, but denying he is racist.
Ryanair has previously apologised to Ms Gayle.