Police swooped on a plane that had just landed at Stansted Airport on Friday afternoon and arrested a 55-year-old male passenger on suspicion of a hate crime that had occurred on a flight just 24-hours earlier.
The man has been identified as a suspect who was part of a group who chanted anti-Semitic abuse at an Orthodox Jewish passenger who was trying to find a seat on the Ryanair flight from Stansted to Belgium.
The football hooligans have been identified as West Ham supporters who were travelling to see their club play Gent in a Europa League match on Thursday. The club says it is “appalled” by the behaviour of the so-called fans and has vowed to slap the suspects with lifetime bans.
Essex Police, which is responsible for Stansted Airport, said it started an investigation as soon as it was made aware of a video of the anti-Semitic abuse was being shared on social media.
In a statement, Essex Police Chief Superintendent Tom Simons said police wouldn’t “tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind”.
“Having been made aware of the incident this morning, officers worked quickly to secure an arrest at the earliest possible opportunity,” Simons continued.
Essex Police said the man had been taken to a local police station where he was still being questioned. Police have requested any witnesses get in touch to help with their ongoing enquiries.
A spokesperson for West Ham said the club had a “zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination”.
“Any individuals identified will be issued with an indefinite ban from the club. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the football club and we do not welcome any individuals who do not share those values.”
Ryanair has not commented on the incident and the airline has not said why cabin crew didn’t call police before departure to deal with the incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.