Court told pilot hopes to have ‘grown up’ relations with Ryanair one day

Airline is suing three pilots for defamation

One of three pilots being sued by Ryanair has told the High Court he was "very vigorous" in checking facts before sending an email which, the airline alleges, falsely inferred it misled investors.

Capt Evert Van Zwol, who was chairman of the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) interim council which sent the email, said he accepted now that one matter in relation to a date in the email was incorrect.

The rest of it was correct, he said.

He also said he had no animus towards Ryanair and its management and hoped at that time [September 2013], and still does, he could eventually sit down with them and have normal “grown up” relations.

He was giving evidence on the ninth day of Ryanair's action against him, John Goss and Ted Murphy, three founders of the RPG, who deny the email of September 12th, 2013, was defamatory.

The court heard the email headed “Pilot” Pilot Update: what the markets are saying about Ryanair”, was originally conceived by Mr Van Zwol and two consultants from the Irish Air Line Pilots Association (Ialpa) working as part of the “RPG project”. Various drafts were produced before the final one was circulated to 2,289 pilots.

Capt Van Zwol said one of the matters he had “zoomed in on” in the email was that Ryanair managers sold shares in June, 2013.

Before the email went out, he said he looked at stock exchange reports and was satisfied two executives (Ryanair chairman David Bonderman and non-executive director Michael Horgan) had sold shares in June, 2013.

He accepted the date in the email relating to when the two men sold their shares was incorrect. He had said in the email that the shares were sold in late June when it was actually mid-June.

Asked by his counsel Paul O’Higgins did he publish knowing, as alleged by Ryanir, the words used were false and published out of ill-will, he replied that he was convinced he was factually correct and did not do anything recklessly. While he made a mistake on one matter, it was not done deliberately as that would be “more or less legal suicide”.

The trial continues before a judge and jury.