Lee Ryan: why Blue star is in court, what happened on British Airways flight - does he have a wife?
The singer denied that he was racist and said that his behaviour was ‘just drunk banter’
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Blue star Lee Ryan has been found guilty of racially aggravated assault after telling a black flight attendant “I want your chocolate children” while drunk.
The singer, 39, was “slurring his words and staggering around” after drinking a whole bottle of port before a British Airways flight from Glasgow to London City Airport on 31 July last year. After being refused more alcohol on the plane and told to return to his seat, Ryan made comments about Leah Gordon’s looks, calling her a “chocolate cookie” before grabbing her wrists.
Why is Lee Ryan in court?
Ryan was found guilty at Ealing Magistrates’ Court of being drunk on an aircraft, assaulting a police officer by biting him, racially aggravated common assault by beating and behaving in an abusive way towards the cabin crew member.
The flight attendant told Ealing Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (12 January) that Ryan initially called her “beautiful” and put his sunglasses on her face. She said: “He was making comments about my complexion, you’re my chocolate darling, my chocolate cookie, and I’m going to have your chocolate children.”
She went on: “It felt like he was saying I was beautiful for a Black person because of the way he was describing my colour.” The flight attendant told the court Ryan later approached her from behind, saying: “Before I get off this plane I need a kiss from you.”
After telling him to “stay away”, she said he grabbed both her wrists before passengers intervened, magistrates heard.
She said: “He was towering over me, like he was leaning in to give me a kiss.” The flight attendant told the court: “He said to me ‘I want your chocolate children.’”
She added: “I was intimidated, I felt a bit embarrassed like I wasn’t doing my duty properly. To get comments about my colour whether intentional or not, it was just unacceptable and so derogatory. I just felt like it wasn’t fair and I shouldn’t have to put up with it. I don’t go to work to be assaulted or harassed.”
What did Lee Ryan say?
Ryan, who was tearful in the dock before giving evidence, said he drank a whole bottle of port and ate cheese in the BA lounge after the flight was delayed. He told the court of “annoying” a passenger next to him by asking what book he was reading, with no recollection of what occurred after that.
Ryan told magistrates: “I’m sorry. My band member is Black, I’m not racist, I’ve had Black girlfriends, mixed-race girlfriends. It was banter, just drunk banter I suppose, there was no malice or intention to upset anyone.”
He added: “I didn’t mean to cause any distress to anyone or be racist, it was just a poor choice of words I suppose.”
Ryan told the court his actions were merely “playful” and denied the use of the word chocolate was racist.
He also claimed to have said “chocolate chip cookie”, adding: “They’re white, there was no malice in them [the comments].”
He added: “I am sorry that I touched her, but that’s all I did, touch her lightly, by her admission.”
He told police officers in an interview, read to the court: “I wish I could ring her up and apologise and offer her some Blue tickets for the next tour.”
They claimed he tried to bite one of the officers after being arrested at the London airport, to which he replied: “I don’t remember that.”
Did he approach another flight attendant?
A separate flight attendant, who also gave evidence in court, said she was approached by Ryan shortly after the plane departed.
She alleged: “He told me he had a problem, that he was being harassed by other passengers, that he was famous and asked did I know who he was.”
Ryan asked to be upgraded from economy to business class but was refused as the plane was full, it was said.
The flight attendant told the court: “He was angry, saying he was a gold card holder and that he needed to be moved because of this.”
She noticed Ryan was “slurring his words and staggering around” and cut him off from ordering alcohol, magistrates heard
Ryan followed her to the back of the plane and asked for another drink but was refused, she said. He told her “stop being boring, let’s have a drink”, the court heard. The trial continues. Ryan denies the charges.
Is Lee Ryan married?
In March last year, Ryan announced that he had tied the knot with partner Verity Paris in a small ceremony in Gibraltar. At the time, the couple had been together for two years, with Paris giving birth to their first child together in March 2022. Ryan also has two other children from previous relationships - he shares his daughter, Bluebell, with ex-girlfriend Jessica Keevil, and son Rayn with ex-fiancee Samantha Miller.
Paris is a former X Factorcontestant who appeared on the show in 2009, and has worked as an Ariana Grande impersonator.
Speaking to the Sun, Ryan said: “I met someone finally who loves and supports me in everything I do. Verity is a beautiful, strong and loving woman who I treasure, and I’m a lucky man to have such a wonderful mother for my child, and now wife in her.
“I’ve never been more calm and grounded and I have Verity to thank for that. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life because of the wonderful family life I now have.”
In 2021, Ryan moved to Spain, stating that his home on the Costa Del Sol gave him and his family a “better quality of life”, as well as a “new lease of life”.
He told Hello Magazine: “We sit in our hot tub on our roof terrace, singing at the top of our voices. I don’t know what the neighbours make of it. I can’t wait to teach this little baby how to sing and play the piano and saxophone.”