Ryanair initiates defamation case against Channel 4

Airline is suing broadcaster and several newspapers over safety allegations made in Dispatches documentary

Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 16:49

EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY

Ryanair has initiated High Court defamation proceedings against Channel 4 and several other media outlets arising from a documentary which raised concerns about its safety practices.

The Dispatches programme, which aired last Monday, alleged Ryanair pilots were being put under pressure to fly with minimum fuel loads, an allegation the airline refutes.

Yesterday, the airline confirmed it had sacked one of its most senior pilots and was pursuing legal action against him over his appearance in the documentary.

Lawyers for the airline said today defamation proceedings had been issued in the High Court in Dublin on its behalf against Channel 4 and Blakeway Productions, which produces Dispatches; Associated Newspapers which owns the MailOnline; and the Mirror Group, publisher of the Daily Mirror.

They also said a writ of summons has also been issued in Northern Ireland against the Belfast Telegraph and that other litigation was pending.

“We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings with a view to securing total vindication of Ryanair’s industry-leading safety reputation, following the broadcast and publication of outrageous and totally unfounded allegations regarding my client’s attitude towards safety,” they added in a statement.

Yesterday, the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) accused of the airline of trying to “suppress discussion” about airline safety after it sacked Captain John Goss following his appearance in the documentary.

Capt Goss, who had been due to retire in October, had expressed concerns about several aspects of the airline’s safety culture, including its fuel load policy and its handling of safety reports.

“It is simply extraordinary that the immediate reaction of Ryanair to safety issues brought to their attention is to deny the existence of any problems and to effectively shoot the messenger,” RPG chairman, Evert van Zwol said.

“Safety experts are agreed that a sound safety culture is based on pilots having faith in a non-punitive approach and dealing directly and transparently with all concerns raised.”